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  • Periodic Reporting for period 1 - FAST-PSAT (FAST-PSAT. An innovative solution for building small satellites with a modularity design by using plastic polymers with fast prototyping 3D techniques: a “Lego® brick” concept)

FAST-PSAT Report Summary

Project ID: 782178

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - FAST-PSAT (FAST-PSAT. An innovative solution for building small satellites with a modularity design by using plastic polymers with fast prototyping 3D techniques: a “Lego® brick” concept)

Reporting period: 2017-08-01 to 2018-01-31

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

FAST-PSAT, rebranded now as BRICSAT, is a PICOSATS project, an Innovative Start-up company based in Trieste. The aim is to define a razor-and-blade business model to launch on the market a new solution for building small satellites by using a promising plastic polymer and 3-D manufacturing technique, with a modularity design, a “Lego® brick” concept. This solution would significantly improve access to space to many players, particularly small companies, and research institutes, and it would solve technical, operational, social and economic issues that characterize the design phase and development process of current customized small satellite production, both in civilian and military applications. Over the last decade, more than one hundred small satellites have been launched; this number will tremendously increase in the next future, with over 200 small satellites already in 2018. BRICSAT aims at providing the means to get independence in satellite mechanical manufacturing and to grant accessibility and adaptability of the space industry, in the light of a remarkable interest in small space programs, both in the scientific and industrial field. The availability of a modular, non-metallic bus that can host a variety of payloads, providing EU-wide means for a low-cost and quick access to space, coping with global challenges: effective observations from space for monitoring natural hazards, agricultural aspects and security ones, and tele-communications at low-cost and with low environmental impact upon re-entry. The modularity concept can be even extended to larger structures to simplify, accelerate and standardise satellite production and further enhance the economies of scale.
The overall BRICSAT phase 1 objective was to define the IP, technical, and business strategy to bring this innovative solution on the market.

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

The company, in order to validate and launch the new technology, decided to focus on the CubeSat standard. It has to be underlined that this decision is only for a practical reason: the medium-term objective is to bring the BRICSAT technology available also for bigger satellites. Following this rationale, PICOSATS investigated among partners and possible customers the best configuration to be launched, also in combination whit other company main sub-systems: a radio for small satellites.
Part of the project activities was to delineate all the strategic partners and suppliers necessary to map the BRICSAT ecosystem and to define the product costs and future prices. Moreover, it was investigated the selling strategy options with the respective selling channels.
In order to consolidate the company’s image, PICOSATS decided to redefine its entire corporate image through the design of a new company logo and website, that will be both published in the next weeks.
On the IP side, the company deposited a patent application and is depositing the new logos and brands.
During the project period, PICOSATS defined the value proposition of BRICSAT, which is founded on the following pillars:
- Multidimensional modularity: possibility to customize the satellite’ shape, adding or subtracting the number of units
- Fast delivery time because of its standardized production and testing of single pieces
- Debris mitigation and mass reduction because of the plastic material
Additionally, together with partners, future clients and end-users, PICOSATS settled up the basis for the future Phase 2 application, also discussing it with potential investors that will ensure the company growth.
The company participated successfully at the Rome Space Week 2017 and got already accepted for a talk at the ESA 4S Symposium in May 2018. Moreover, the company is planning to participate at the IAC 2018, which will be in Bremen and the ESA Industry Space Days in Noordwijk (NL).

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

BRICSAT has the potential to change the small satellite world in general. Because of its modularity feature, it represents an enabling technology for making affordable the space market to smaller subjects, but also for space exploration.
Optimistically, the intrinsic challenges of the space environment for the in-orbit assembly and the difficulties related to the integration of different subsystem can be overcome in case of the project success.
The modular BRICSAT design accompanied to a fast prototyping technique is highly beneficial in terms of costs and timescale especially during the development phase since customer-specific features and requirements in the mechanical design can be smoothly and quickly implemented and tested. Together with the main product (satellite frame manufacturing), a number of different services will be available, from the mechanical design up to custom systems manufacturing and tests. Moreover, the envisaged BRICSAT solution, thanks to the innovative structure, will substantially contribute to the mitigation of space debris, ensuring the complete destruction of the satellite during its re-entry phase, impacting positively to the related environmental/societal issue.

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