Posted: Thursday, January 31, 2019
Pasadena, California – 2019 February 1. The novel Sun-Synchronous Orbit-A mission (SSO-A) successfully completed on December 3 last year relied significantly on error-free operation of an extensive suite of avionics supplied by Ecliptic Enterprises Corporation (Pasadena, California). Conceived in 2015 by Spaceflight (Seattle, Washington), SSO-A was the first fully dedicated rideshare mission, where 64 small satellites were integrated onto a single large launch vehicle (a SpaceX Falcon 9) via a modular stack of support structure, launched into Low Earth orbit and then separately deployed from the support structure to become independent Earth-orbiting satellites. This mission set a new U.S. record for the most satellites launched by a single launch vehicle: 64.
Once reaching orbit, avionics on the Falcon 9 rocket's upper stage initiated six deployment events: separation of a large module called the Upper Free-Flyer (UFF), separation of a smaller module called the Lower Free-Flyer (LFF) and release of four small satellites which were attached to a structural module that remined with the second stage. All of the satellites deployed from the UFF and LFF were of the microsat/CubeSat class—20 on the UFF and 40 on the LFF. Ecliptic's avionics interfaced with five different separation system designs from four different vendors.
The UFF and LFF were both outfitted with a redundant suite of Ecliptic-supplied control avionics, battery packs, radio transmitters and wire harnesses. Separation from the Falcon 9 activated these systems, and for several more hours a combined 60 spacecraft release events were commanded by the electronics, following complex, thoroughly tested event sequences stored in non-volatile memory. Confirmation signals verifying spacecraft release and other important engineering telemetry were also captured and relayed to various tracking stations around the globe.
"Ecliptic's products and services were the key to mission success," wrote Spaceflight's SSO-A Mission Director Jeff Roberts as he commended the firm for its support of the mission. Ecliptic began its contract with Spaceflight over two years before the launch, stepping through requirements-definition and design phases, build-up of development model test versions of the system, and finally build-up and environmental testing of the flight units. As part of the overall effort, Ecliptic opened a new wiring harness lab and for over a year and a half designed, fabricated and tested over two miles of test and flight harnesses.
"Programmatically and technically, this was a very challenging effort," said Ecliptic's COO Riki Munakata, who also served as Project Manager for the contract. "The hardware, software and harnessing designs had to be flexible enough to deal with many changes in the SSO-A payload manifest during the course of the contract, and we knew that the overall operation ultimately had to be flawless for the mission to succeed 100%."
About Ecliptic Enterprises Corporation: Ecliptic, a privately held firm based in Pasadena, California, provides space avionics and sensor systems to commercial, civil and defense-related markets in the U.S. and abroad. Its popular RocketCam™ family of onboard video systems provides improved situational awareness on rockets and spacecraft, while its variants of experiment and payload control avionics manage complex sequencing, monitoring, data- handling and data-routing functions for a wide range of mission applications. Ecliptic also supports selected small satellite- and CubeSat-class engineering, integration, testing and operations activities, including hosted payload accommodations. See more at http://www.EclipticEnterprises.com.
RocketCam™ is a trademark of Ecliptic Enterprises Corporation.
About Spaceflight: Spaceflight is revolutionizing the business of spaceflight by delivering a new model for accessing space. A comprehensive launch services and mission management provider, the company provides a straightforward and cost-effective suite of products and services including state-of-the-art satellite infrastructure and rideshare launch offerings that enable commercial and government entities to achieve their mission goals on time and on budget. A service offering of Spaceflight Industries, Inc. in Seattle, Spaceflight provides its services through a global network of partners and launch vehicle providers. For more information, visit http://www.spaceflight.com.
Director of Mission Services
Ecliptic Enterprises Corporation
VP Marketing Communications
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