Englewood, Colorado. July 9, 2014 — Colorado-based Surrey Satellite Technology US LLC (SST-US) has announced that its Orbital Test Bed (OTB) satellite will carry five demonstration payloads for a variety of commercial, government, and academic organizations.
With the assistance of the Department of Defense Space Test Program, OTB is scheduled to launch on a SpaceX Falcon Heavy in May 2016. The OTB satellite is the first spacecraft to be integrated at the SST-US facility which opened last year in Englewood, Colorado.
“The OTB satellite is providing aerospace organizations with a low-risk opportunity to test new subsystems and payload technologies on an actual low-Earth orbit mission while sharing the cost of development and launch,” said Will Thompson, SST-US OTB project manager. “The rideshare concept behind OTB is a cost-effective way to rapidly space-qualify new equipment and generate in-orbit data.”
Owned and operated by SST-US, the OTB satellite is based on the CFESat modular design developed by the Surrey group for the Los Alamos National Laboratory using the flight-proven SSTL-150 satellite bus. The SST-US engineering team in Colorado will utilize the same satellite integration methodologies developed by the Surrey group over a period of three decades that have resulted in 43 successful operational and experimental satellite missions.
The SST-US OTB spacecraft will carry the following payloads into orbit:
SST-US primary payload suite comprising the Electronics Test Bed, the FlexRX receiver, and the RadMon sensor — The Electronic Test Bed seeks to evaluate and demonstrate a number of new electronic components, processors, and memory devices, enabling in-orbit heritage to be gained on components that may be incorporated into future designs. The incorporation of FlexRX, Surrey’s next-generation programmable receiver equipment, allows in-orbit test, demonstration, and qualification of a product that will be used on future missions and also sold to third parties. The final element of the SST-US payload suite is the RadMon, the latest generation radiation effects monitor that will collect data on the radiation environment in space for correlation with other OTB sensors and for applications in future Surrey missions.
Deep Space Atomic Clock (DSAC) — A miniaturized, ultra-precise mercury-ion atomic clock that is orders of magnitude more stable than current space-based navigation clocks, DSAC is being developed by the California Institute of Technology’s (Caltech’s) Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) for NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate’s Technology Demonstration Missions Program. DSAC will demonstrate the precise timing and navigation capabilities that will be required for NASA’s pursuit of deep space exploration.
Modular Solar Array (MSA) — Developed by Vanguard Space Technologies for the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory in Albuquerque, the MSA will demonstrate flight readiness of a standardized modular approach to solar panels, with the ability for modules to be quickly replaced during final satellite testing prior to launch.
Integrated Miniaturized Electrostatic Analyzer (iMESA-R) — Developed by cadets at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, iMESA-R is a sensor that will sample the space environment to find plasma irregularities that may forecast outages in space weather models.
Colorado University Surrey Project (CUSP) — A joint project between Surrey and the University of Colorado, Boulder, CUSP is a data collection and storage electronic test bed experiment built by students using off-the-shelf components.
In addition to carrying the above five payloads, OTB will test a Terminator Tape Deorbit Module — a device developed by Tethers Unlimited Inc. of Bothell, Washington, to deorbit the OTB satellite at the end of its planned mission. Incorporated into the satellite power system are solar cells designed by EMCORE Corp. of Albuquerque that are more efficient than those flown on previous Surrey missions.
“Surrey has delivered hosted payload solutions to the international space community for more than thirty years,” said Thompson. “OTB demonstrates the ongoing commitment of SST-US to provide cost-effective access to space.”
The recent signature of the DSAC flight services agreement finalizes the OTB payload manifest; however, based on significant demand and a number of payloads that could not be carried on the initial mission, SST-US is currently exploring the viability of a follow-on mission with a launch targeted for the second quarter of 2016.