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The AMS (Agile Micro Satellite) is a mission featuring a 6U CubeSat spacecraft to demonstrate that a CubeSat can reliably operate in very low earth orbit. It is led by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Lincoln Laboratory.

AMS will initially launch to an altitude of 500 kilometers and will use electric propulsion to maneuver to the lowest altitude possible. By demonstrating CubeSat performance at such low altitudes, the U.S. Air Force, and others will be able to leverage the technology to conduct important new Earth observation and other civil and military space missions.

The satellite features an ENPULSION thruster offering active thrust vector control without moving parts, the IFM Nano Thruster SE. This effect is achieved by the segmented extractor which enables the steering of the beam and achieves precise thrust pointing.

Operating at lower altitudes provides higher resolution for a given optical sensing aperture. Spacecraft agility provides the opportunity for earth remote sensing techniques observing transient, unpredictable Earth scenes such as agricultural or ecological stress, fire smoke plumes, coastal and river flooding and oil spills. AMS will use an indium-fed field effect electric propulsion thruster with thrust vector control to implement its orbital maneuvers. AMS is implementing advanced satellite control techniques including vector control momentum management during thrusting, low-drag attitude control and critical fault response in low altitude/high drag conditions. AMS will validate increasingly sophisticated and demanding guidance techniques, progressing from manual ground control to automated on-board guidance as confidence is gained through on-orbit operation. Upon reaching low altitude, AMS will maneuver into repeating satellite ground track orbits on demand to operate two optical payloads. The AMS Camera payload will collect reflected sunlight imagery of local regions of interest cued by mission operations. The AMS Beacon payload provides a near infrared laser transmitter as an artificial phase reference to demonstrate ground based adaptive optics. Mission planning is ongoing leading to anticipated launch in Q4 2021 and minimum altitude of 280 km or lower.

Nation: USA
Type / Application: Technology
Operator: Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Lincoln Laboratory
Contractors: Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Lincoln Laboratory, Blue Canyon Technologies (bus)
Equipment: Camera, IR laser beacon
Configuration: CubeSat (6U)
Propulsion: Enpulsion vectored thruster
Power: Solar cells, batteries
Satellite COSPAR Date LS Launch Vehicle Remarks
AMS 2022-057P 25.05.2022 CC SLC-40 Falcon-9 v1.2 (Block 5) with Umbra 03, ICEYE X17, ..., X20, X24, —uSat 28, ..., 31, GHGSat C3, C4, C5, Hawk 5A, 5B, 5C, CICERO-2 1, 2, Sherpa-AC 1, ION-SCV 006, Guardian 1, SBUDNIC, Vigoride 3, SelfieSat, FossaSat 2E7, ..., 2E13, Veery FS-1, Urdaneta-Armsat 1, Spark 2, AMS, CNCE 4, 5, Platform 1, BroncoSat 1, Foresail 1, Planetum 1, SPiN 1, Connecta T1.1, Centauri 5, Sejong 1, Lemur-2 153, ..., 156, VariSat 1C, PTD 3, CPOD A, B, OMD 1


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