NASA Sounding Rocket Tests New Technology

by

A cheap-to-build microsatellite platform and a host of other technologies aimed at bringing down launch costs were test flown June 10 aboard a Terrier-Improved Orion suborbital rocket lifting off from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.

The mission’s primary payload — a modular reconfigurable microsatellite bus called SMART that can be integrated and readied for launch in as few as seven days for less than $1 million — was jointly developed by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., and the Pentagon’s Operationally Responsive Space Office at Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque, N.M.

SMART, which stands for Small Rocket/Spacecraft Technology, measures 40 centimeters in diameter and is intended for a variety of missions, including optical imaging and radio-frequency applications. NASA spokesman Keith Koehler said the payload was recovered after launch.

“They’ll start really pouring over the data [gathered from the launch] next week,” he said June 10.