Teledyne Brown offers ISS platform for testing spacecraft parts in orbit before flying them for real


LOGAN, Utah — Teledyne Brown Engineering plans to install a hyperspectral imager built by the German Aerospace Center, DLR, in the firm’s International Space Station observatory in March.

DLR’s Earth Sensing Imaging Spectrometer will be the first payload tested on the Multi-User System for Earth Sensing (MUSES), Teledyne Brown’s external Earth-facing platform that traveled to the space station in June inside a SpaceX Dragon cargo capsule.

Teledyne Brown helped DLR fund the hyperspectral sensor in exchange for rights to the data. “The DLR owns all the scientific data and we own all the commercial data,” Chris Crumbly, Teledyne Brown vice president for civil and commercial space business development, told SpaceNews.

At the Small Satellite Conference here this week, Teledyne Brown promoted MUSES as a platform that instrument developers can use to test their systems in orbit before launching them on free-flying satellites.

Companies seeking spaceflight heritage for new sensors or other systems can test them in MUSES “instead of putting them on a billion dollar satellite,” Crumbly said. “You can test it in MUSES and we’ll bring it back home so you can dissect it to make sure everything is working exactly as you want it to.”

Customers who send payloads to the space station on NASA commercial cargo flights will have the option of bringing the payloads back after six, 12 or 18 months of testing, Crumbly said.

MUSES includes four bays for sensors, experiments and technology demonstrations. Two large bays can accommodate payloads weighing as much as 100 kilograms and two smaller bays are designed for payloads of 50 kilograms or less.

Teledyne Brown announced plans Aug. 10 to work with Oakman Aerospace to develop a standard interface to simplify the process of linking customer payloads to MUSES, which offers access to the space station’s power and communications channels.

Oakman Aerospace, a small business based in Littleton, Colorado, can configure the MUSES interface to support standard satellite buses if customers intend to pursue free-flyer missions after space station testing, Oakman Kennedy, business operations lead, told SpaceNews.