Business

May 31, 2013

Northrop Grumman-built Modular Space Vehicle nears completion of manufacturing phase

REDONDO BEACH, Calif. ñ A Northrop Grumman-led team recently completed the third gate review of its first Modular Space Vehicle bus assembly, integration and test, marking completion of functional testing.

The team will conduct comprehensive “day in the life” testing next for the Operationally Responsive Space-2 (ORS-2) bus, leading to hardware acceptance by the Air Force’s ORS program office. To mark this occasion, the ORS office held an open house on May 9 at Applied Technology Associates in Albuquerque, N.M., where hardware integration and test were performed.

Northrop Grumman’s MSV spacecraft design is the first to implement a modular, rapidly reconfigurable architecture using open standards developed by an industry consortium in conjunction with the Air Force Research Laboratory and the Air Force’s ORS Office at Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M.
“Completing these test processes will show that our design meets ORS’ program objective requirements and moves the government closer to the launch of this first-of-its-kind vehicle that could revolutionize the way spacecraft are built,” said Doug Young, vice president, Missile Defense and Advanced Missions, Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems. “We are bringing network avionics technology to spaceflight and giving the nation an affordable option to respond to rapidly changing, multi-mission needs.”

Northrop Grumman’s team consists of Design Net Engineering, Golden, Colo.; Applied Technology Associates, Albuquerque, N.M.; Microcosm Inc., Hawthorne, Calif.; Advanced Defense Systems, Columbia, Md.; and Space Dynamics Laboratory, Utah State University, Logan, Utah.

“The government’s investment in the past two-and-a-half years has developed a scalable, open architecture capability that allows bus components and payload modules to plug into a central spacecraft network using standardized technology, much like the way new hardware can be plugged into computers via USB ports,” said Phil Katz, Northrop Grumman’s MSV program manager.

“We have reduced integration complexity, resulting in a spacecraft that is more cost-effective, modular and more rapidly reconfigurable for assembly than typical space vehicles in this class,” he said. “Producing a modular open architecture commodity bus gives the government the ability to host a variety of payloads and to perform different missions at lower total mission cost,” Katz said.

Northrop Grumman is performing MSV-related study and hardware development under a five-year contract awarded in November 2010 by NASA’s Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif., supporting the Air Force’s Operationally Responsive Space Office.

Northrop Grumman has successfully used this rapid development approach before, building and launching the award-winning Lunar CRater Observation and Sensing Satellite for NASA Ames in just 27 months.




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