Ball Aerospace, Blue Canyon Technologies complete rigorous technology review


Contact: Jon Coifman, (212) 616-1325 or

(SAN FRANCISCO – Feb. 20, 2020) The two principal technology providers for the MethaneSAT mission have successfully cleared a rigorous design review process meant to ensure the key components of the satellite meet the critical design and performance specifications. The pair are Ball Aerospace, which is developing the very high-performance spectrometer-based methane sensing system, and Blue Canyon Technologies, which is building the orbital platform (or “bus”) that will provide power, maneuvering and communications.

Following months of development, Ball and Blue Canyon underwent three days of intensive examination by MethaneSAT staff and their partners from Harvard University and the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory. The review also included members of MethaneSAT’s Technical Advisory Group, headed by Joe Rothenberg, former director of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, and the project’s Science Advisory Group, led by Dr. Dan McCleese, former chief scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

“MethaneSAT is built around a set of high-performance technologies and sophisticated analytical tools that, when combined, provide a major leap in our ability to measure and quantify even low-level methane emissions across the globe from space,” said mission co-lead Dr. Steven Hamburg. “We’re asking a lot of our technical partners and they are rising to the occasion.”

The assessment included what the industry calls a Preliminary Design Review (PDR) for the Ball instrument, and a Heritage Design Review (HDR) for the adaptations that Blue Canyon is making to its X-SAT Saturn-Class platform. The purpose in each case is to validate the technology and engineering and ensure that the hardware can meet the demanding specifications of the mission.

Manufacturing has already begun on key components of the satellite. Additional milestone reviews will occur as the design effort is completed and the system is built, assembled and readied for launch. As work on the hardware continues, MethaneSAT is now reviewing options for a launch vehicle to carry the satellite into orbit in late 2022.


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