Ascending Node Technologies Awarded SBIR Phase II Contract from NASA to Expand its Spaceline Mission Planning Software

Contract Fuels Development To Let Users Create Spacecraft Mission Observation Plans Directly Within Spaceline.

TUCSON, Ariz. - Ascending Node Technologies, LLC., a Tucson-based company that develops innovative software to support spaceflight operations, today announced it received a Phase II Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) contract from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

The two-year Phase II contract empowers Ascending Node to further develop and deploy its Spaceline® product, a web-based tool providing user-friendly, telemetry-based visualizations of spacecraft and planetary data for collaborative space mission planning. Specifically, this Phase II contract funds the exciting expansion of core Spaceline functionality beyond visualizing only pre-compiled observation plans to actually allowing users themselves to create custom observation plans directly within the Spaceline planning tool, share them and iterate.

Ultimately, the infrastructure and tools developed under this contract will let a user define custom targets in the web-based Spaceline application, and leverage the existing centralized kernel management architecture in Spaceline to share planned target lists across a team for collaboration and iteration.

In addition, users will be able to create an integrated attitude profile for an observation plan that slews between consecutive targets. If necessary, a user will be able to export the resulting attitude profile from Spaceline as a standard Navigation Ancillary Information Facility (NAIF) C-kernel.

The highly competitive SBIR Phase II awards are designed to advance NASA's priorities in aeronautics, human exploration and operations, science, and space technology. Ascending Node was selected after having successfully demonstrated Spaceline's feasibility following the receipt of a SBIR Phase I award in 2021. As a Phase II awardee, Ascending Node will now develop and deploy its Spaceline technology over the next two years.

"We're thrilled that NASA recognizes the value of our approach to mission planning," said John Kidd, chief aerospace engineer, Ascending Node Technologies. "Saving time, saving hassle, and easily sharing simulations — these innovations aim to hit all three."

"Creating scenarios directly within Spaceline will also make it very compelling in a classroom," added Carl Hergenrother, chief scientist, Ascending Node Technologies.

Spaceline solves an enduring challenge for mission designers - the need for an understandable, 3D visual representation of planned spacecraft operations that can be easily shared across the mission team for comparison, review, and feedback. Spaceline provides rapid visualization of telemetry data derived from NAIF SPICE kernels, the standard telemetry file format for interplanetary exploration missions. The web-based product also generates simulated predicted science data, allowing mission designers to get an early start on calibration/validation pipelines.

Spaceline's architecture provides an easily accessible platform for team members to communicate and collaborate while designing intensive observations. Spaceline's kernel management architecture allows updates to kernels to easily propagate, and helps users understand the impact of their upcoming observations.

Spaceline directly responds to NASA's objective to develop mission design tools that increase the accuracy of mission science modeling and support observation planning. By providing an accessible, sharable science planning platform, Spaceline reduces both cost and risk for spacecraft missions at every stage of development. Spaceline's architecture of a well-maintained server back-end and a simple, browser-based front-end drives a real-time, interactive experience.

Spaceline's architecture provides an easily accessible platform for team members to communicate and collaborate while designing intensive observations.

About Ascending Node Technologies

Ascending Node Technologies, LLC, is a Tucson-based company that develops technology to allow spacecraft mission designers and operators to work better together. Spaceline is the company’s new web-based application that creates telemetry-based, interactive 3D visualizations of spacecraft operations right in your browser, which can then be shared across the mission team for easy collaboration and feedback. Ascending Node’s founders have more than half a century’s combined experience planning, developing and operating interplanetary exploration missions. In 2019 NASA ignited the development of Spaceline and has since awarded Ascending Node Technologies multiple SBIR contracts. Learn more at www.ascendingnode.tech.

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