‘Spacecraft bus’ one step nearer launch
Posted on 20 Jul 2021 and read 385 times
Northrop Grumman Corp
recently announced the successful delivery of an ESPAStar-D ‘spacecraft bus’ from Gilbert, Arizona, to L3Harris in Melbourne, Florida. The platform supports the Navigation Technology Satellite-3 (NTS-3) mission for the Air Force Research Laboratory scheduled to launch from Cape Canaveral in 2022.
Built to provide ‘affordable, rapid access to space’, ESPAStar-D can accommodate combinations of ‘hosted and separable’ experimental payloads on six common and configurable payload ports. The bus uses an ‘evolved expendable launch vehicle’ (EELV) ‘secondary payload adapter’ (ESPA) ring as its primary structure, allowing multiple ESPAStars to be stacked together on a single launch vehicle.
The platform can support missions in geosynchronous orbit (GEO), low Earth orbit (LEO) and medium Earth orbit (MEO).
Northrop Grumman’s Blake Bullock said: “Our unique ESPAStar platform provides proven solutions for customers seeking a modular, cost-effective and highly capable spacecraft bus for hosting technology development and operational payloads.
“ESPAStar’s innovative design offers unmatched flexibility for orbit locations and deployment, and we are proud to partner with L3Harris to meet all of our customers’ requirements, including target cost goals supporting the Air Force’s on-orbit deployment schedule.”
The experimental NTS-3 payload is designed to augment space-based position, navigation and timing for ‘warfighters’ and features a modular design capable of supporting a variety of mission needs.
The NTS-3 bus was built in Northrop Grumman’s satellite-manufacturing facility in Gilbert, Arizona. The facility is currently undergoing an expansion to add more than 100,000ft2
of production space, increasing the overall ESPAStar ‘Integration and Test’ capacity.