Lin Industrial is a Russian startup developing small satellite launch vehicles, that aims to cut waiting times for satellite launches to just three months. Supported by Skolkovo (Russia’s version of Silicon Valley), Lin Industrial is working on its primary project, the Taymyr launch vehicle, which should be able to send payloads of up to 180 kg into low Earth orbit. These vehicles could make exploring space more affordable and will be able to launch nanosats and microsats (up to 180 kg) into orbit. The venture aims to carry out its first space launch in 2020. Taymyr launch vehicle will make the space affordable for everyone – it will launch into orbit nanosats and microsats (up to 180 kg) and 1 kg of payload will cost within $60,000 for customer.
The last decade has seen a trend of shifting from heavy satellites weighing multiple tons to satellites in micro- and nano- classes. The development of smallsat (100-500 kg), microsat (10-100 kg) and nanosat (1-10 kg) platforms is seen around the world. Both private and state-owned companies and educational institutions are involved in the creation of such satellites.
Russian private companies Dauria and SPUTNIX are also developing microsats and nanosats. SPUTNIX launched Tabletsat-Aurora, the first Russian private satellite (26 kg), while Dauria launched two satellites of Perseus-M series (5 kg each) and one DX-1 (15 kg). OJSC Russian Space Systems launched TNS-0 #1 nanosat (5 kg) for technology development.
Russian universities are also catching up. Mozhayskiy Academy launched multiple satellites. For instance, the latest Mozhaets-5 satellite weighs 73 kg. MSU launched Tatiana (32 kg) and Tatiana-II (90 kg), and Ufa State Aviation Technical University launched UGATUSAT (40 kg). MAI launched MAK-1 and MAK-2 satellites (20 kg each), and in partnership with Southwest State University was involved in the development of Radioskaf series of satellites (up to 100 kg).
At the same time, there are no small satellite launch vehicles both in Russia and around the world. Payloads offered by small-lift launch vehicles (like Soyuz-2-1v, Rockot etc.) and especially by medium-lift and heavy-lift launch vehicles are excessive for launching individual microsats and nanosats. Thus, the lightest of current launch vehicles today is Pegasus XL, which lifts 443 kg to LEO. Therefore small satellites are launched on such launch vehicles as secondary payloads together with primary satellites, or in multiples (cluster launch).
When launching as secondary payloads, delays in preparing the primary payload often lead to delays in the secondary payloads launch. Adherence to a launch schedule is particularly critical when deploying orbital constellations of multiple satellites. For example, a breach of schedule for a launch of small technology satellites leads to direct financial losses, since the delay in technology validation slows down the development of commercial satellites on its base.
Another disadvantage is that when launching as a secondary payload the orbit is chosen by the primary payload customer. Specific orbit is critical for some satellites. So, for photographic remote sensing of the Earth, a sun-synchronous orbit is usually chosen. In 2013 there was no launch into a sun-synchronous orbit, so it was simply unreachable for a secondary payload.
Lin Industrial propose to create a launch vehicle, or rather an entire Taymyr family of microsat launch vehicles with payloads of 10 to 180 kg to LEO. These launch vehicles will allow customers to launch their microsats and nanosats within 3 months (rather than 9 months of the closest competitor) into any LEO (including polar orbits) or a sun-synchronous orbit with no limitations to the satellite design.
The propellant supply subsystem is a pressure-fed system, allowing to drastically simplify the launch vehicle design and its pneumohydraulic scheme, eliminate relatively expensive turbopump, improve the reliability and reduce the development costs. This comes at a price: it makes the design heavier. Replacing metals with light-weight composites allows to solve the problem.
The launch vehicle will employ technologically advanced composite materials – carbon-fiber-reinforced polymer, reinforced carbon-carbon, organic-fiber-reinforced polymer. Flight control is implemented with thrusters and grid fins. Lin Industrial refused of gimbaled thrust, further simplifying the design and making it cheaper.
Lin Industrial expect to use a compact control system of our own design, based on MEMS gyroscopes (angular rate sensors) and microcontrollers with ARM core. It can provide the required orbit insertion accuracy for a launch vehicle using only cheap commercial off-the-shelf electronics. The fuel is kerosene, the oxidizer is high-test peroxide. These propellants don't require hardware withstanding extremely low temperatures (like during the fueling with liquid oxygen, for instance), and are not toxic (unlike nitric acid, nitrogen tetroxide and unsymmetrical demethylhydrazine).
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