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NASA's Space Technology 5 Satellites Soar Into Space (Forwarded)
Dwayne Brown/ Grey Hautaluoma
Headquarters, Washington March 22, 2006
Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.
NASA'S SPACE TECHNOLOGY 5 SATELLITES SOAR INTO SPACE
NASA's Space Technology 5 successfully launched today at 9:04 a.m.
EST, from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., on a Pegasus XL rocket.
ST5 is testing new micro-spacecraft technologies and operations'
techniques. The three spacecraft will conduct science validation
using measurements of the Earth's magnetic field collected by the
miniature boom-mounted magnetometers on each.
Initial contact with ST5 was made at 9:27 a.m. EST, as the spacecraft
passed over the McMurdo Ground Station in Antarctica.
Art Azarbarzin, ST5 project manager at NASA's Goddard Space Flight
Center, Greenbelt, Md., described next week's planned activities for
the spacecraft. "During the first day, we ensure the three craft are
correctly operating. During the next few days, we deploy and test the
magnetometer booms. Finally we prepare them for the science
demonstration and make any necessary orientation adjustments,"
Miniaturized components and technologies are integrated into each of
the ST5 micro-satellites. Each micro-satellite weighs approximately
25 kilograms (55 pounds) when fully fueled and is about the size of a
13 inch television.
Jim Slavin, ST5 project scientist at Goddard said, "The lessons
learned from the development and flight of ST5's three full-service
micro-spacecraft constitute a major step toward the use of
constellations or swarms of small spacecraft to accomplish science
that cannot be done with a single spacecraft, no matter how capable."
Although small compared to their counterparts, each of the spacecraft
is considered full service. They contain power, propulsion,
communications, guidance, navigation and control functions found in
The spacecrafts' orbit is a "string of pearls," in a near-Earth polar
elliptical that will take them from approximately 300 kilometers (190
miles) to 4,500 kilometers (2,800 miles) from the planet.
They start out only a few meters apart. Within approximately 20 days,
they are placed into a formation 40 to 200 km (approximately 25 to
125 miles) apart from each other to perform coordinated multi-point
measurements of the Earth's magnetic field. This type of measurement
is useful for future missions that will study the effect of solar
activity on the Earth's magnetosphere; the magnetic bubble that
surrounds Earth and helps to protect it from harmful space radiation.
The ST5 project was built and tested at Goddard for NASA's Science
Mission Directorate. It is an instrumental part of the New Millennium
Program, which develops and tests critical and revolutionary
technologies needed to enable future endeavors in space. For
information about the ST5 project and mission on the Web, visit:
For information about NASA and agency programs on the Web, visit:
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