Planetary Resources, the Redmond-based asteroid mining company, finally got a spacecraft in orbit, the company announced today. The Arkyd 3 Reflight (more on the name in a bit) is what Planetary Resources calls a demonstration vehicle. After leaving the International Space Station, the relatively low-cost satellite will be used to test some of the company’s core technologies, including avionics and control systems.
You might recall this isn’t the first Arkyd 3 Planetary Resources has tried to put into space. Back in October, the company’s initial satellite was destined for the ISS when this happened:
The Orbital Sciences Anatares rocket explosion was great fireworks indeed, but a bit of a bummer for a select group of kids and Planetary Resources. Since Arkyd 3 never took flight, the Reflight was built. A SpaceX rocket sent the latest Arkyd to the ISS in April, a couple months before another SpaceX rocket had troubles of its own.
Now in space, Planetary Resources, which has received about $1.5 million in funding, gets to do some off-planet testing.
“Our philosophy is to test often, and if possible, to test in space,” Planetary Resources President Chris Lewicki said in a statement. “The A3R is the most sophisticated, yet cost-effective, test demonstration spacecraft ever built. We are innovating on every level from design to launch.”