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With ‘Commerce of Small Satellites’ as Conference Theme, Surrey Discussing OTB Missions in Utah

“The Commerce of Small Satellites” is the theme at this year’s Small Satellite Conference hosted by Utah State University. This growing event is one we’re proud to be part of as an exhibitor and small satellite pioneer. The conference theme highlights the fact that entrepreneurs are increasingly leveraging small satellite technology to bring innovative applications to fruition that wouldn’t have been feasible just a few years ago.
This theme also provides an ideal backdrop for us to discuss our two Orbital Test Bed (OTB) missions that have made news in the past month. The idea behind these “ride-sharing” satellites is to enable organizations, both big and small, to launch newly designed satellite components, experimental subsystems, and payloads into space aboard a flight-proven satellite bus at reduced risk and cost.

Surrey booth, Tuesday at SmallSat
Included in the conference proceedings is our paper “The Technology Objectives of the Orbital Test Bed Mission: Using the Hosted Payload Concept to Advance Small Satellite Technologies and Scientific Capabilities,” coauthored by Anita Bernie and Tyler Murphy. This paper discusses the technology objectives of the OTB mission and the relevance of a hosted payload approach for flying U.S. government sensors and commercial payloads to enable the commercialization of small satellite products and technologies and advance the capabilities of future small satellite systems, as well as discuss the validity of different mechanisms for creating and exploiting fast-turnaround hosted payload opportunities.
In mid-July, we formally announced the flight manifest for our first OTB satellite, which will carry five demonstration payloads for a range of commercial, government and academic organizations into space aboard a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket. With the cost shared among the participants including NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory, Air Force Academy, University of Colorado, and ourselves, we will all get the chance to quickly space-qualify new equipment and gather in-orbit performance data without investing in a dedicated mission.
At the time we closed the OTB manifest, we were still in talks with several additional organizations that had demonstration payloads of their own on the drawing board or under development with no ride into space. Just last week, we officially announced plans for our second test bed mission OTB-2 scheduled for launch into low-Earth orbit in 2016.
Like OTB, the second test bed mission is based on our SSTL-150 platform. We plan to flight test one of our own experimental optical suites on OTB-2 along with the payloads of multiple third parties who will take advantage of a unique opportunity. In addition to our own payload, OTB-2 will have a baseline capacity to support payloads up to 50 kg and 50 W, but the option is available to expand and customize based on customer requirements. We will manufacture OTB-2 at our Englewood, Colorado, facility.

OTB-2 representative mechanical drawing
 Looking at OTB from a broader perspective, we see the OTB missions as the cornerstone of our goal to change the economics of space through small satellite technology, a refrain that is playing well here at the conference in Logan, Utah.
If you’re attending the Small Satellite Conference this week, please stop by and see us at booth 21-22 in the exhibit hall.


05 August 20140 Comments1 Comment

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