Press Release

NASA Selects Surrey Satellite US for Flight of Deep Space Atomic Clock Payload

By SpaceRef Editor
June 27, 2013
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Today Colorado-based Surrey Satellite Technology US LLC (SST-US) announced that NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) has selected SST-US for the flight of the Deep Space Atomic Clock (DSAC) payload under the sponsorship of NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD). DSAC will fly on the SST-US-owned-and-operated Orbital Test Bed (OTB) satellite, the first spacecraft to be integrated at the new SST-US facility in Englewood, Colorado.

Under the agreement SST-US will provide a hosted payload flight opportunity for the NASA DSAC payload on its upcoming OTB mission, scheduled for launch during 2015. DSAC features a miniaturized, ultra-precise mercury-ion atomic clock which is an order of magnitude more stable than today’s best space-based navigation clocks. In-orbit demonstration of the precision timing and navigation capabilities of the DSAC instrument is a key requirement for NASA’s pursuit of deep space exploration missions which require higher-precision data collection and autonomous radio navigation for time-critical events such as orbit insertion or landing.

The SST-US-owned-and-operated OTB satellite, which is currently in design and manufacture, will qualify and demonstrate an array of payload equipment and subsystem technologies, in addition to the DSAC payload. SST-US will integrate the OTB spacecraft in its new facility in Englewood, Colorado.

SST-US CEO Dr. John Paffett said, “We are delighted to have been able to adapt our own mission to accommodate the JPL Deep Space Atomic Clock and to provide a much needed flight opportunity for this critical technology development. Working closely with the JPL team we’ve been able to identify a solution that fulfills all of our respective requirements-very much a win-win for both parties.”

Dr. Paffett continued, “Since our establishment in the U.S. in 2008, we’ve been aware of a number of developed, shelved, or orphaned payloads looking for flight opportunities, and therefore initiated the OTB concept to make available payload capacity to accommodate these third-party payloads.”

SST-US will take a similar approach to future missions-for both the company and its customers. Close to utilizing all of the available payload capacity on this OTB mission, SST-US is considering providing fight opportunities on future programs for other third-party payloads, subsystems, and equipment.

SpaceRef staff editor.