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A NASA Strategy for Leveraging Emerging Launch Vehicles for Routine, Small Payload MissionsOrbital flight opportunities for small payloads have always been few and far between, and then on February 1, 2002, the situation got worse. In the wake of the loss of the Columbia during STS- 107, changing NASA missions and priorities led to the termination of the Shuttle Small Payloads Projects, including Get-Away Special, Hitcbker, and Space Experiment Module. In spite of the limited opportunities, long queue, and restrictions associated with flying experiments on a man-rated transportation system; the carriers provided a sustained, high quality experiment services for education, science, and technology payloads, and was one of the few games in town. Attempts to establish routine opportunities aboard existing ELVs have been unsuccessful, as the cost-per-pound on small ELVs and conflicts with primary spacecraft on larger vehicles have proven prohibitive. Ths has led to a backlog of existing NASA-sponsored payloads and no prospects or plans for fbture opportunities within the NASA community. The prospects for breaking out of this paradigm appear promising as a result of NASA s partnership with DARPA in pursuit of low-cost, responsive small ELVs under the Falcon Program. Through this partnership several new small ELVs, providing 1000 lbs. to LEO will be demonstrated in less than two years that promise costs that are reasonable enough that NASA, DoD, and other sponsors can once again invest in small payload opportunities. Within NASA, planning has already begun. NASA will be populating one or more of the Falcon demonstration flights with small payloads that are already under development. To accommodate these experiments, Goddard s Wallops Flight Facility has been tasked to develop a multi-payload ejector (MPE) to accommodate the needs of these payloads. The MPE capabilities and design is described in detail in a separately submitted abstract. Beyond use of the demonstration flights however, Goddard has already begun developing strategies to leverage these new ELVs as elements of a larger system designed to provide routine, low-cost end-to-end services for small science, Exploration, and education payloads. The plan leverages the management approaches of the successful Sounding Rocket Program and Shuttle Small Payloads Projects. The strategy consists of using a systems implementation approach of elements, including 1) Falcon ELVs, 2) advanced launch site technologies and processes, 3) suite of experiment carriers accommodating different mission requirements, 4) streamlined integration and test operations, 5 ) experiment brokering and management, and 6) standardized, distributed payload operations. The envisioned suite of carriers includes the MPE, a standard interface experiment carrier, and potentially a reentry fieeflyer experiment carrier. Key to the success of this strategy is standard experiment interfaces within the carriers to limit mission- unique tasks, establishmg and managing a program of scheduled reoccurring flights rather than discrete missions, and streamlined, centralized implementation of the elements. These individual elements are each under development and Goddard will demonstrate the overall system strategy low-cost small payload missions on the initial Falcon demonstration launches from Wallops. goal is to show that this model should be converted to a sustained NASA program supporting science, technology, and education, with annual flight opportunities. The paper will define in detail the various elements of the overall program, as well as provide status, philosophy, and strategy for the program that will hopefully once-and-for-all provide low-cost, routine access to space for the small payloads community.
Document ID
Document Type
Conference Paper
Underwood, Bruce E. (NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Greenbelt, MD, United States)
Date Acquired
August 23, 2013
Publication Date
January 1, 2005
Subject Category
Documentation and Information Science
Meeting Information
19th Annual AIAA/USU Conference on Small Satellites(Logan, UT)
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.