Brokkr-1 Satellite

Name Brokkr-1 (ORBASTRO-AF-1)
Spacecraft type CubeSat
Units or mass 6U
Status Operational (Some attitude control challenges as per update on 2023-11-12 as of 2023-12-12))
Launched 2023-04-15
Deployer EXOpod 12U/16U [Exolaunch]
Launcher Falcon 9 (Transporter-7)
Organization Astro Forge
Institution Company
Entity Commercial
Nation (HQ) US
Nation (AIT) UK
Manufacturer AIVT by Orbital Astronautics
Operator Orbital Astronautics

Test technology to extract metals from asteroid materials.


Brokkr-1 will test technology the company has developed to extract metals from asteroid materials. The payload, which takes up two-thirds of the volume of the cubesat, will attempt to vaporize “asteroid-like” material carried inside and sort out metals from other constituents.


The Brokkr-1 refinery demonstration mission successfully launched on April 15, 2023, with the goal of validating AstroForge's full-system engineering team, flight-testing critical subsystems in preparation for deep space, and, finally, extracting platinum from an asteroid simulant. Of course, no project as ambitious as asteroid mining is without its challenges and lessons learned. 

After nominal separation from the launch vehicle, it proved difficult to quickly identify our satellite amongst the 50+ satellites deployed on the same launch from a single ground station. Over the next few weeks, through our own network and introductions made by our investor and advisory board, we rapidly connected with space companies who had ground assets to help in identifying our satellite. 

We achieved our first positive signal on May 5, 2023! Telemetry verified the vehicle was in a healthy state. 

Closing the command link to deploy the solar arrays would take longer. Our spacecraft was designed to actively control the attitude (orientation) of our vehicle such that the deployed arrays would point at the Sun to maximize power for our refinery, and our command and telemetry antenna, located on the opposite side, would point at Earth. 

During final integration and testing with OrbAstro, we identified that the magnetic field generated by our refinery system prevented the satellite’s ability to actively orient the satellite. We decided to proceed forward as-is, fully understanding the risk that our satellite would now be passively stabilized in a wobble, eventually settling in an orientation where we lose communication. The alternative was to redesign the refinery and delay the mission at least nine months to the next available launch date and forfeit the launch cost. With an impeded ability for orientation control due to the payload’s magnetic field, the high gain patch antennas used for telemetry and command meant we had a lower chance of alignment between onboard antennas and ground station. To mitigate the lower communication link margin, OrbAstro burned the midnight oil with us to incorporate an extra omnidirectional antenna so we could at least downlink the health status of the satellite. Unfortunately, due to time constraints, the addition of an omnidirectional uplink antenna was not possible. It was high-risk but even with the decreased communication link margin due to the wobble, we could still complete the demonstration as long as the panels were deployed. However, our analysis and planning did not account for how long it would take to identify our satellite. 

After identifying the satellite, over the next couple months we received numerous nominal health packets which was a great sign, deploying the solar panels was proving difficult. To accelerate things, we needed more ground station passes. So in July 2023, we decided to contract, license, and commission another ground station. This process can take up to a full year; we did it in three months. In that time, we also brought the mission operations in-house, with the AstroForge team taking on the primary operator roles. 

On September 2, 2023, the solar arrays were successfully deployed. And on November 8, 2023, satellite commissioning and checkouts were completed, and we moved into the initial refinery baseline functional testing and demonstration. 

Now it’s a race against time to complete the refinery checkouts and demonstrations before the satellite stabilizes and we lose the ability to command completely. We estimate that to be in another three months. 

In summary, the TL;DR:

Failure cause Some challenges with strong magnetic fields interfering with attitude control.
Sources [1] [2]
Photo sources [1]
COTS subsystems
  • PLATFORM - OrbAstro
On the same launch

Last modified: 2024-05-29

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