Press Release

CHIPSat Systems Fully Functional

By SpaceRef Editor
January 29, 2003
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SpaceDev is very pleased to announce that all systems on its revolutionary Cosmic Hot Interstellar Plasma Spectrometer microsatellite (CHIPSat) have been fully commissioned. The satellite was launched at 4:45 p.m. PST on January 12 from Vandenberg Air Force Base. Approximately 83 minutes after liftoff, CHIPSat was deployed into low earth orbit and approximately 12 minutes later the first successful bi-directional contact with the satellite was made on its first pass over the University of California at Berkeley ground station.

Since our last update, the SpaceDev operations team has turned on the attitude control system and progressed through checkout of the attitude sensors and actuators that were developed with a key partner, Dynacon Systems, Inc. The microspacecraft was de-tumbled successfully, and the micro wheels have been individually checked out.  The spacecraft has achieved 3-axis stabilization and is now able to point at and track any target and perform 3-axis slews.

The entire microspacecraft is working as designed. The SpaceDev team has verified that the end-to-end Internet communications are working effectively and that SpaceDev’s S-band transmitter and receiver have a robust link with our three ground stations.  The ability to control and distribute power, including the high current necessary for instrument activation has also been verified.  All automated operations and the thermal control system are fully exercised and working effectively. 

The detector high-voltage power system was powered up yesterday.  The detector image is healthy and current draws are nominal and stable. The CHIPS instrument is now ready to start gathering the first science data for the mission. 

CHIPSat is a sophisticated, high performance, low-cost microsatellite designed and built by SpaceDev for the University of California at Berkeley under a NASA-funded $6.8 million commercial fixed-price contract.  SpaceDev had overall responsibility for the mission design, the design, assembly, integration and testing of the CHIPSat microsatellite as well as designing the entire ground segment and establishing a Mission Control Center at SpaceDev headquarters in Poway, California to test and operate the satellite. 

For detailed information on the other new SpaceDev subsystem products developed for and utilized on CHIPSat, including the Miniature Flight Computer, please view the information in the left hand column or visit our website at

SpaceRef staff editor.