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OTB Blog Series: Integration Has Begun

In 2013, the Surrey US team moved into a shiny new building in Englewood, Colorado, that includes 2,700 square feet allocated to manufacturing, integration, and testing. Soon after our announcement that the Orbital Test Bed (OTB) would be the first flight spacecraft integrated in this new facility, our team began transforming the undeveloped space into a clean room that is capable of supporting spacecraft manufacturing and assembly, integration, and test activities. In preparation for OTB, the cleanroom was framed in, HVAC and electrical were incorporated, and the entire room was scrubbed top to bottom.
Representative mechanical drawing of OTB
In January of this year, hardware began arriving from our parent company Surrey Satellite Technology Limited (SSTL), which signaled the beginning of the OTB integration phase. As the crates made their way through customs and landed on our dock, they were joined by counterparts from domestic vendors. The once-empty integration facility quickly filled with racks of flight hardware and ground support equipment (GSE).

Little by little, the OTB components have emerged from the shipping containers, and a spacecraft has begun to take shape. Integration of the avionics bay began with the mechanical assembly of the core avionics and is currently proceeding through electrical checkout and system functional testing. We are now prepping two payload bays to receive five payloads—both bays will soon have the flight harness installed and all interfaces verified so the payload integration can start as the payloads are ready. The lower payload bay sits directly on top of the avionics bay and will house the DSAC payload. We will integrate the other four payloads into the upper payload bay while the bay structure sits on a bench. These include iMESA-R, CUSP, MSA, and the Surrey primary suite (Radmon, ETB, and FlexRX technology demonstration). The entire upper payload bay will be lifted as a complete assembly and integrated to the spacecraft.

Integrating OTB
In addition to the flight hardware, mechanical GSE such as lifting frames, turnover fixtures, and integration jigs have been developed and are ready to assume their roles when called upon. Electrical GSE is up and running, and the ground station rack—which will be used to support operations of the satellite in orbit—is coming together. 

OTB’s electrical ground support equipment
While OTB is the first spacecraft that will go through the new Colorado integration facility, it leverages a long line of Surrey spacecraft heritage. OTB is a direct descendant of CFESat launched in 2007. Developed from Surrey’s flight-proven SSTL-150 satellite bus, CFESAT has been operating for seven-plus years—well past its five-year design life.

CFESat  [Credit SSTL]
While OTB is based on this illustrious parent, it incorporates the more recent six years of Surrey innovations, improvements, and methods to represent the state-of-the-art in Surrey spacecraft. OTB carries the latest Surrey-developed subsystems, including updated onboard computers and power systems.

OTB is part of the STP-2 mission that will launch on a SpaceX Falcon Heavy launch vehicle. This launch is currently scheduled for May 2016.

While OTB is the first installment of a U.S.-built spacecraft for Surrey, it is more than simply a maiden voyage—it is a new beginning to a bright future for a spacecraft team that Colorado can be proud of.

 

12 March 20150 Comments1 Comment

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