Space

August 9, 2012

NASA selects small spacecraft technology demonstration missions

NASA has chosen three teams to advance the state of the art for small spacecraft in the areas of communications, formation flying and docking systems.

The cutting-edge space technology flights are expected to take place in 2014 and 2015.

All selected missions will employ nanosatellites conforming to the CubeSat standard. CubeSats are composed of four-inch, cube-shaped units with each having a volume of about one quart and a weight of approximately three pounds. CubeSats can be joined to create multiple-unit spacecraft. They readily can be accommodated as secondary payloads or rideshares on a number of space launch vehicles.

“NASA’s Small Spacecraft Technology Program is structured to advance the capabilities and technologies associated with small, low cost space missions to enhance NASA’s ability to conduct more with less,” said Michael Gazarik, director of NASA’s Space Technology Program at Headquarters in Washington. “These flights validate new space technologies and capabilities prior to infusion into NASA science and exploration applications and missions.”

The three missions selected for flight demonstration are:

  •  “Integrated Solar Array and Reflectarray Antenna for High Bandwidth CubeSat,” Richard Hodges, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., partnering with Pumpkin Inc. of San Francisco. ISARA will demonstrate a radio communication system that dramatically boosts the amount of data that the small satellite can transmit by using the back of its solar array as a reflector for the antenna. This three-unit CubeSat will be funded at approximately $5.5 million with launch expected in two years.
  • “Integrated Optical Communications and Proximity Sensors for Cubesats,” Siegfried Janson, Aerospace Corporation of El Segundo, Calif. This pair of 1.5-unit CubeSats will demonstrate a laser communication system for sending large amounts of information from a satellite to Earth and also demonstrate low-cost radar and optical sensors for helping small spacecraft maneuver near each other. The mission is expected to take two years and $3.6 million to develop and operate.
  • “Proximity Operations Nano-Satellite Flight Demonstration,” Charles MacGillivray, Tyvak Nano-Satellite Systems LLC of Orange, Calif. Two three-unit CubeSats will demonstrate rendezvous and mechanical docking of small spacecraft in orbit. This project is expected to take three years and approximately $13.5 million in funding to develop, launch and operate. Partners on the project include Applied Defense Solutions Inc. of Columbia, Md., 406 Aerospace LLC of Bozeman, Mont., and California Polytechnic State University of San Luis Obispo.

NASA’s Small Spacecraft Technology Program is designed to identify and support the development of new subsystem technologies to enhance or expand the capabilities of small spacecraft. The program also supports flight demonstrations of new small spacecraft technologies, capabilities and applications. In addition, it supports use of small spacecraft as platforms to test and demonstrate technologies and capabilities that might have applications in spacecraft and systems of any size.

NASA’s Space Technology Program directs the Small Spacecraft Technology Program, which is managed by NASA’s Ames Research Center in Mountain View, Calif. NASA’s Space Technology Program is innovating, developing, testing and flying hardware for use in NASA’s future science and exploration missions. NASA’s technology investments provide cutting-edge solutions for our nation’s future.

For more information about NASA’s Space Technology Program and Small Spacecraft Technology Program, visit http://www.nasa.gov/oct.

 




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 
Lockheed Martin photograph

Fourth Lockheed Martin-built MUOS secure comm satellite shipped

Lockheed Martin photograph On June 28, MUOS-4, the next satellite scheduled to join the U.S. Navy’s Mobile User Objective System secure communications network, shipped to Cape Canaveral from Lockheed Martin’s satellite manu...
 
 
Photograph courtesy of NASA/CXC/U. Wisconsin/S. Heinz

NASA’s Chandra captures x-ray echoes pinpointing distant neutron star

Photograph courtesy of NASA/CXC/U. Wisconsin/S. Heinz A light echo in X-rays detected by NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory has provided a rare opportunity to precisely measure the distance to an object on the other side of the...
 
 

Veteran NASA spacecraft nears 60,000th lap around Mars

NASA’s Mars Odyssey spacecraft will reach a major milestone June 23, when it completes its 60,000th orbit since arriving at the Red Planet in 2001. Named after the bestselling novel “2001: A Space Odyssey” by Arthur C. Clarke, Odyssey began orbiting Mars almost 14 years ago, on Oct. 23, 2001. On Dec. 15, 2010, it...
 

 
nasa-study

NASA selects six wild ideas in aviation for further study

NASA has selected six proposals to study transformative ideas that might expand what’s possible in aviation, shifting the boundary between fantastic and futuristic. During a day-long meeting in April, 17 teams pitched the...
 
 
NASA photograph

NASA signs agreement with Space Florida to operate historic landing facility

NASA photograph This aerial photo of the runway at the KSC Shuttle Landing Facility looks north. Longer and wider than most commercial runways, it is 15,000 feet long, with 1,000-foot paved overruns on each end, and 300 feet wi...
 
 

All systems go for NASA’s mission to Jupiter moon Europa

Beyond Earth, Jupiter’s moon Europa is considered one of the most promising places in the solar system to search for signs of present-day life, and a new NASA mission to explore this potential is moving forward from concept review to development. NASA’s mission concept — to conduct a detailed survey of Europa and investigate its...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>