NRL launches nano-satellite experimental platforms

Posted by Courtney E. Howard

WASHINGTON, 20 Dec. 2010. Two nano-satellites, designed and built by engineers at the U.S. Naval Research Lab Naval Center for Space Technology, have been deployed to evaluate nano-satellites as a platform for experimentation and technology development. The nano-satellites launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, on December 8, 2010, as secondary payloads on a Falcon 9 launch vehicle from Space Exploration (SpaceX) Technologies Inc.

The two 3U (30x10x10 centimeter) CubeSat buses, known as the CubeSat Experiment (QbX), were built by Pumpkin Inc. in San Francisco, Calif., and provided to the NRL by the National Reconnaissance Office’s (NRO’s) Colony Program Office.


This event marks the first flight of the Pumpkin-built Colony I spacecraft bus, which is being used to evaluate the performance of the vehicle as a platform for experimentation.

Engineers from the NRL Spacecraft Engineering Department are in the checkout phase of the 3U CubeSats, the NRL developed tracking, telemetry and command (TTC) radio is fully functional, providing reliable two-way data transfers and the flight software, ported from previous and ongoing NRL programs to the Pumpkin Colony I processor, is providing an onboard scheduler for routine vehicle control and operation.

“Currently, the spacecraft are healthy, and experimentation and checkout are continuing,” says Dr. Stephen Arnold, electronics engineer, NRL Spacecraft Engineering Department. “Deployments, including arrays and antennas, were successful and verified shortly after launch.”

Spacecraft attitude is controlled by, and operates in, a novel “Space Dart” mode. Due to the low-orbit (300km) atmospheric drag provides a stabilization torque that, used with reaction wheels and torque coils, provides stable pointing to within five degrees of Nadir throughout the orbit. The system has been verified on both vehicles and is providing a stable platform for continued experimentation.

“It is expected that the QbX vehicles will remain in orbit for approximately 30 days,” explains Arnold. “After which, they will succumb to the effects of atmospheric drag and be destroyed during re-entry to Earth’s atmosphere.”

The primary payload launched aboard the SpaceX Falcon 9 was the Dragon Module. Developed by SpaceX and sponsored by NASA's Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) program, the Dragon Module is an initiative to develop private spacecraft to ferry cargo to and from the International Space Station.

Flight software, antennas, and the TTC radio were built and integrated by the NRL, as was the developmental communications payload. Environmental testing of the completed package was also performed at NRL. Ground stations on the east and west coasts provide coverage for command loads and data collection.




Get All the Military Aerospace Electronics News Delivered to Your Inbox or Your Mailbox

Subscribe to Military Aerospace Electronics Magazine or email newsletter today at no cost and receive the latest information on:


  • C4ISR
  • Cyber Security
  • Embedded Computing
  • Unmanned Vehicles

Military & Aerospace Photos

Most Popular Articles

Related Products

Flexible Printed Circuit Board

Flexible Printed Circuit Boards are one of the most popular types of circuit boards used in a var...

Rigid Printed Circuit Boards

Rigid printed circuit boards can only meet diverse industrial applications if the best materials ...

Printed Circuit Board Assembly

Printed Circuit Board Assembly (PCB ASSY) is as critical a process as circuit board manufacturing.

Micro Borescope Ultra Thin

German made, it is the best choice for extremely small inspection areas, with diameters as small ...

XPand6020 | Small Form Factor (SFF) System Featuring XPedite5205 Running Cisco IOS® and XPedite7450

The XPand6020 is a Small Form Factor (SFF) system that features an XPedite5205, which runs Cisco ...

XChange3013 | 3U VPX Gigabit Ethernet Switch with Optional Layer 2 Switching and Layer 3 Routing Management Support

The XChange3013 is a conduction- or air-cooled, 3U VPX Ethernet switch module. The XChange3013 pr...

XChange4002 | Conduction- or Air-Cooled 6U VME PMC Carrier Card

The XChange4002 is a versatile conduction- or air-cooled 6U VME64x dual-PMC carrier card. With PC...

XPand4200 Series | ½ ATR Lightweight Forced-Air-Cooled Chassis for Conduction-Cooled Modules

The XPand4200 Series redefines the limits of power, performance, and functionality in a sub-½ ATR...

XCalibur4501 | 5th Generation Intel® Core™ i7 Broadwell-H Processor-Based Conduction-Cooled 6U CompactPCI Module

The XCalibur4501 is a high-performance 6U CompactPCI single board computer that is ideal for rugg...

XPedite5500 | Freescale P2020 QorIQ Conduction- or Air-Cooled PrPMC/XMC Module

The XPedite5500 is an XMC/PrPMC mezzanine module targeting the Freescale QorIQ P2020 processor. W...

Related Companies

Uniforce Sales and Engineering

Provides solutions to machine vision and image acquisition in many applications, including in the fields of medical, ...

A-FLEX

Provides customized Printed Circuit Board fabrication in California. The entire process can be customized according t...

TASC Technical & Assembly Services Corporation Electronic Equipment Manufacturing

Electronic Manufacturing sub-contractor. Circuit Board assembly, Cable Assembly, Wire Harness Assembly, Box Build Ass...

Curtiss-Wright Defense Solutions

About Curtiss-Wright Defense Solutions Curtiss-Wright Defense Solutions (CWDS) is a long established techno...

DiCon Fiberoptics Inc

Offers fiber optic switches, tunable filters, and VOAs. Founded in 1986, the company is a US based, AS9100 certified,...

DDC-I Inc

Offers complete solutions for embedded software developers with a focus on mission- and safety-critical applications....

United Electronic Industries Inc

UEI is a leader in the PC/Ethernet data acquisition and control, Data Logger/Recorder and Programmable Automation Con...

Harris Corporation

Harris provides advanced, technology-based solutions that solve government and commercial customers' mission critical...

Crane Aerospace & Electronics

When failure is NOT an option...rely on Crane Aerospace & Electronics. We supply high-density, high-reliability c...

A'n D Cable Products Inc

A'n D Cable Provides Data Center Racks, Cabinets, Zero U Rack Management including cable management, copper Cat5E/Cat...
Wire News provided by   

Press Releases

Model INCX-4001

The INCX-4001 consists of a high quality audio transceiver specifically designed to implement a complete fiber optic intercom.

Model PS-1210

The PS-1210 is a 1A, 12VDC stand-alone or rack mountable non-switcher (no RF noise) power supply.

Model OS-3121

Optical switches are utilized to disconnect, bypass and reroute fiber optic communications. All of these optical switches are purely optical path, there is no optical to e...

Webcasts

New Design Tools That Help You Develop Radar That Sees the Un-seeable and Detects the Undetectable

Xilinx EW/ISR System Architect, Luke Miller, has new tricks and he’s going to tell you all about them in a new Xilinx Webinar—for free. His Webinar will cover new ways to implement Radar functions including ...
Sponsored by:

All Access Sponsors


Mil & Aero Magazine

July 2015
Volume 26, Issue 7
file

Download Our Apps



iPhone

iPad

Android

Follow Us On...



Newsletters

Military & Aerospace Electronics

Weekly newsletter covering technical content, breaking news and product information
SUBSCRIBE

Cyber Security

Monthly newsletter covering cyber warfare, cyber security, information warfare, and information security technologies, products, contracts, and procurement opportunities
SUBSCRIBE

Defense Executive

Monthly newsletter covering business news and strategic insights for executive managers
SUBSCRIBE

Electronic Warfare

Quarterly newsletter covering technologies and applications in electronic warfare, cyber warfare, optical warfare, and spectrum warfare.
SUBSCRIBE

Embedded Computing Report

Monthly newsletter covering news on embedded computing in aerospace, defense and industrial-rugged applications
SUBSCRIBE

Unmanned Vehicles

Monthly newsletter covering news updates for designers of unmanned vehicles
SUBSCRIBE