Superconducting technology introduces new prospects for space

Falcon 9 vertical at SLC-4E for launch at the Vandenberg Space Force Base in California
Falcon 9 vertical at SLC-4E for launch at the Vandenberg Space Force Base in California

New Zealand headquartered space-flight systems company Zenno Astronautics (Zenno) has celebrated the first space launch of Z01, its world-first superconducting magnetic torquer for fuel-free spacecraft attitude control.

Zenno’s in-orbit validation of Z01 is the first-ever demonstration of high-temperature superconducting electromagnets in space, unlocking new possibilities for space operations in close proximity and beyond.

Zenno’s Z01 SuperTorquer lifted off into space last week on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, Korea 425 mission, from Space Launch Complex 4 East (SLC-4E) at Vandenberg Space Force Base in California. It was hosted on an orbital transfer vehicle from D-Orbit, a company leader in the space logistics industry.

D-Orbit’s ION Satellite Carrier will deploy after lift-off into a 560km Sun Synchronous Orbit on its Beyond mission. D-Orbit will perform orbital demonstrations of Z01, integrated into its satellite carrier, during the mission.

The Z01 superconducting magnetic torquer integrated with D-Orbit’s ION Satellite Carrier

Zenno co-founder and CEO Max Arshavsky said: “The future has arrived as superconducting technology opens up a universe of new possibilities and accelerates the shift towards more dynamic operations. 

“Z01 is a compelling innovation for satellite manufacturers and operators who want to deliver new capability and drive greater productivity from missions. It’s a powerful fuel-free source of force in space that is sustainable, safe, scalable, fully electric and superior to existing technology options. 

“Our first Z01 product is designed to control the attitude of a spacecraft in orbit - enabling fuel-free manoeuvring – a world-first. The Z01 single and Z01 3-axis dipole systems offer significantly lower size, weight and power cost benefits compared with the traditional magnetorquers they replace. 

“Z01’s capability is fully scalable and unlocks yet-to-be-explored advancements for satellite mission length, productivity gains and expansion into space. Fully magnetic satellite agility is just the start.”

Zenno recently formed a special commercial partnership with D-Orbit to collaborate on the development of new space products and services using superconducting electromagnets – including practical solutions for the first fuel-free desaturation of reaction wheels in high-altitude orbits and radiation shielding of hardware using superconducting electromagnets.

D-Orbit founder and CEO Luca Rossettini commented: “We congratulate Zenno on a milestone day for their Z01 technology as it embarks on its in-orbit validation on board our ION Satellite Carrier on our 13th commercial mission. This day is a step forward in our collaboration with Zenno, as together, we are committed to developing innovation to help the space industry accelerate the development of more affordable, sustainable and high-performance spacecraft.”

To view the launch of Zenno’s Z01 on D-Orbit’s ION Satellite Carrier aboard SpaceX’s Falcon 9 “Korea 425” mission, see:


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