SOAR Satellite

Name SOAR (Satellite for Orbital Aerodynamics Research, DISCOVERER)
Spacecraft type CubeSat
Units or mass 3U
Mass in kg 3.355 kg
Status Reentry 2022-03-14. Was operational (Official confirmation on 2021-07-14 last checked on 2021-08-04)
Launched 2021-06-03
NORAD ID 48851
Deployer NRCSD (NanoRacks CubeSat Deployer) [Quad-M]
Launcher Falcon 9 (CRS-22)
Deployment Deployed from ISS on 2021-06-15
Organisation The University of Manchester
Institution University
Entity type Academic / Education
Nation (HQ) UK
Nation (AIT) Denmark
Manufacturer AIVT by GomSpace
Operator The University of Manchester
Partners University of Manchester, Elecnor Deimos, GomSpace, University of Stuttgart, UPC-BarcelonaTECH, University College London, Euroconsult
Costs €5.7 million

Demonstrate aerodynamic attitude and orbit control manoeuvres.


The primary aim of the SOAR mission is to test and characterise new materials that can reduce the experienced drag and increase aerodynamic performance in low altitude orbits. The satellite will also perform characterisation of the atmospheric flow and demonstrate novel aerodynamic attitude control manoeuvres.

Investigate the interaction between different materials and the atmospheric flow regime in very Low Earth Orbit and to demonstrate aerodynamic attitude and orbit control manoeuvres. Identification of materials which can minimise drag or improve aerodynamic control.

Two payloads:

  1. A set of steerable fins which provide the ability to expose different materials or surface finishes to the oncoming flow with varying angle of incidence whilst also providing variable geometry to investigate aerostability and aerodynamic control. The fins can be individually rotated to different incidence angles with respect to the oncoming flow. The fins will be folded and stowed against the spacecraft body for launch and are deployed once the satellite is in orbit to enable the interaction of the different test materials with the residual atmosphere to be investigated. The steerable fins will also be used as control surfaces to demonstrate novel aerodynamic control manoeuvres in orbit.
  2. An Ion and Neutral Mass Spectrometer with Time-of-Flight capability which enables accurate measurement of the in-situ flow composition, density, and thermospheric wind velocity. The Ion and Neutral Mass Spectrometer (INMS) developed by the team at University College London UCL – Mullard Space Science Laboratory (MSSL), is designed to measure the properties of the residual atmosphere and supports the investigation of drag-reducing materials by providing in-situ density, composition, and velocity data. The instrument will also provide new information about the variability of atmospheric drag effects, thermospheric chemistry, and the impact of space-weather on the upper-atmosphere.
Sources [1] [2] [3]
Photo sources [1] [2] [3] [4] [5]
COTS subsystems
  • ADCS - GomSpace
  • RWS - Astrofein
  • EPS - GomSpace NanoPower P31u
  • BATTERY - GomSpace NanoPower
Subsystems sources [1] [2]
On the same launch

Last modified: 2024-05-29

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