Saturday, April 17, 2010

Orbital Secondary Payloads

A couple months ago, I wrote a post about the need for agents that could coordinate suborbital research missions – freeing developer/operators to focus on…well, developing and operating. It is exciting to see Andrews Space moving in this direction (same agent concept – orbital focus).

Utilizing’s Space X’s Falcon vehicles and Dragon capsule, Andrews is focused on secondary payloads.

- Small spacecraft launch
- Hardware qualification
- Biotechnology research
- Earth observation and monitoring

It will be interesting to watch this development.  Will we see larger launchers and capabilites be packaged and sold into small pieces like Andrews is planning or will we see the development of smaller and smaller launchers capable of dedicated launches for these smaller payloads?  There are definitely pros/cons to each approach.

Friday, April 9, 2010

What Would You Launch on a LEO Sat?

Iridium is scheduled to start launching its next gen LEO satellite network in 2014. I personally think this date will slip to the right, however…
According to SpaceFlightNow, Iridium has “extra room, power and communications capacity on the company's NEXT constellation.” They are looking for applications. The USAF is interested in filling the extra space on on their satellites. Sounds like some foreign nations may be interested as well.

 Iridium has mentioned a few ideas for filling that empty space.  Cool tools for:
  • Space Situational Awareness
  • Space Weather monitoring
  • Earth imaging
  • Use a GPS link between NEXT and comsats for a host of measurements between LEO and GEO
 What do you want to launch?

  • 110 pounds of mass
  • 50 watts of continuous power
  • 1 megabyte/sec communication rate