ArgoMoon, a nanosatellite for deep space built by Italian Argotec and coordinated by the Italian Space Agency, has been selected by NASA as a payload for the forthcoming Exploration Mission 1 expected at the end of 2018.
ArgoMoon, the Italian excellence in space research
The Exploration Mission 1 (EM-1) represents the second test flight of the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle, a spacecraft currently being developed by NASA, that will be used in the human exploration of asteroids and cislunar spaces, in view of a future landing on Mars. ArgoMoon is a nanosatellite that will be entirely designed and built by Argotec, the Italian engineering company that is specialized in research and development of aerospace systems. ArgoMoon will be among the CubeSats used by NASA for deep space exploration in Exploration Mission 1; the Italian project is also the only one selected by NASA among those proposed in Europe, a demonstration of the status of excellence that Italy has achieved in space research.
“The choice of ArgoMoon by NASA further strengthens Italy’s prestigious role alongside the main countries that are leading space activities”, said Gabriele Mascetti, head of the Human Flight and Microgravity Unity at the Italian Space Agency.
The nanosat challenge
The use of nanosatellites has considerably increased in recent years. The challenge of Argotec engineers will be to study and implement in a reduced volume several Italian technological solutions, which will have to be highly reliable for a deep space mission.
ArgoMoon will take several historically significant pictures of the EM-1 mission and it will test some innovative communication systems. This is a unique opportunity for technological research in the nanosat field, the results of which will allow new solutions to be obtained while also providing the ability to extend the use of nanosatellites in forthcoming explorations and to support Earth observation with reduced costs.
A significant step for an Italian SME
This is “another important and significant step for an Italian SME which has always focused on research and innovation in the space sector”, said David Avino, Managing Director of Argotec.
“Our engineers are working to develop a new concept of nanosatellite using innovative materials and to integrate, in a volume with the dimensions of a shoe box, some of our systems and Italian technologies. The CubeSats are the drones of the future and we will be the first to test them so far away from Earth, in the extreme conditions of a translunar orbit”.
Argotec is the same company that worked together with coffee machine maker Lavazza and the Italian Space Agency to bring the authentic Italian espresso coffee onto the International Space Station with the ISSpresso system.