The United States Air Force transferred spacecraft control authority for the STPSat-1 Spacecraft to the Naval Research Lab on 1 June at 1600Z. The USAF had been operating the vehicle since its launch in 2007 through its designed mission life of 13 months. Under contract with the NRL, Tiger Innovations is providing its StreamLINK Ground Control System (SGCS) and engineering support to autonomously operate STPSat-1 during the mission extension period.
The StreamLINK system was deployed to support the life extension mission and includes a flight operations version of our Integrated Test Rack (ITR). The SGCS consists of the Tiger Innovations Frame Sync/Command Formatter, and automated operations package that allows 24/7 “lights out” operations. The SGCS utilizes the same StreamLINK backend that was used during integration and test of the vehicle, which allowed us to field a working ground system in less than 2 weeks. It is currently integrated with the Blossom Point Tracking Facility, which provides the RF interface, automated antenna operations, and engineering support during the operational phase of the mission. In addition to providing the StreamLINK system, Tiger Innovations has developed scripts to autonomously take passes, record data, upload commands, and generate email and phone alerts in the event of an anomaly. Following the initial handoff period, STPSat-1 is expected to operate with minimal operator input for the duration of the mission.
STPSat-1 was built by AeroAstro Inc. for the USAF Space Test Program. The primary experiment, Spatial Heterodyne Imager for Mesospheric Radicals (SHIMMER), is a high-resolution ultraviolet spectrometer based on the optical technique known as Spatial Heterodyne Spectroscopy (SHS). SHS facilitates the design of low mass, low power, high throughput spectrometers for space-based remote sensing. The secondary experiment, the Computerized Ionospheric Tomography Receiver in Space (CITRIS), will investigate irregularities that affect propagation of satellite-to-ground links for GPS and communications. STPSat-1 has successfully completed its 13 month design mission and is currently under control of the Naval Research Lab in support of a mission extension effort.