July 21, 2016 – Mission technologists inspect the interior of NASA’s Cyclone Global Navigation Satellite System (CYGNSS) deployment module, provided by the Sierra Nevada Corporation, at the Southwest Research Institute.
CYGNSS will probe the inner core of hurricanes in greater detail to better understand their rapid intensification. The cylinders visible at the front and back of the interior are the separation “kickoff” spring housings that will propel eight micro-satellites away from the deployment module and into Earth orbit.
The micro-satellites will continue environmental testing, including shock and vibration testing, through late summer. Upon completion, the micro-satellites and deployment module will be shipped to Vandenberg Air Force Base for integration with the launch vehicle.
The spacecraft are scheduled to launch November 21 aboard an Orbital ATK Pegasus XL launch vehicle from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida.
The Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio is building and testing the CYGNSS microsatellites and will host the mission operations center at its Boulder, Colorado location.
Sierra Nevada Corporation is making the deployment module for the mission. This is essentially a tube that will hold all eight satellites in two rows with four satellites around the tube. When the rocket gets to just the right altitude, the deployment module will start up and deploy pairs of satellites in opposite directions. Each satellite will come off the deployment module with a speed of about 1 m/s (about 2 miles per hour) with respect to the deployment module, which will be orbiting with a speed of about 7,600 m/s (about 17,000 MPH).
CYGNSS is funded through NASA’s Earth Science Division through its Earth System Science Pathfinder Program Office and developed by the University of Michigan.