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Small Satellite Opportunities at Wallops Flight Facility. Dr. John Campbell Director, Wallops Flight Facility. The Small Satellite Paradox. Small satellites are not funded (nor built) because of a lack of affordable launch opportunities and

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Small satellite opportunities at wallops flight facility

Small Satellite Opportunities atWallops Flight Facility

Dr. John Campbell

Director, Wallops Flight Facility


The small satellite paradox
The Small Satellite Paradox

Small satellites are not funded (nor built) because of a lack of affordable launch opportunities

and

Affordable small satellite launch capabilities have been slow to emerge due to a limited market


Small satellite launch enablers
Small Satellite Launch Enablers

  • Low-cost small launch vehicles

  • Inexpensive & responsive launch ranges

  • Ride sharing


Low cost launch vehicles
Low-Cost Launch Vehicles

  • Get-Away Special & Hitchhiker once served as the premier means for orbiting small satellites

  • New small ELVs are moving to fill the void

    • Minotaur I, IV, & V

    • SpaceX Falcon 1

    • Etc.

  • Essential characteristics of new vehicles

    • Simple pad infrastructure

    • Short time from arrival at range to launch

    • Much lower cost per pound than current vehicles

    • Streamlined range support requirements (e.g., data services, personnel accommodations)


Small launch vehicle options conducted from wallops
Small Launch Vehicle OptionsConducted from Wallops


Small satellites to the moon
Small Satellites to the Moon

  • Small ELVs (e.g., Minotaur V) launched from Wallops can transport 350-500 kg (payload is ~50%) to the Moon

  • Can provide low-cost options for Science and Exploration needs

    • Remote sensing orbiters

    • Impacters

    • Small landers

    • Communication & navigation orbiters


Small satellite launch enablers1
Small Satellite Launch Enablers

  • Low-cost small launch vehicles

  • Inexpensive & responsive launch ranges

  • Ride sharing



Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS)

  • MARS owns 2 launch complexes at Wallops

    • Used for Wallops small-to-medium class ELV missions

  • MARS is a VA & MD sponsored partnership with NASA chartered to pursue commercial aerospace opportunities at Wallops

  • Current agreements enable efficient work with Wallops, using multiple business models:

    • NASA support of MARS commercial launches

    • MARS support of NASA’s government launches


Wallops operating areas
Wallops Operating Areas

  • Wallops operational areas offer nearly unlimited mission capabilities

    • Restricted NASA-controlled airspace encompasses Launch Range & Research Airport

    • NASA airspace provides direct access to Atlantic Ocean for hazardous mission operations

  • Wallops location & geography provides the most efficient access to desirable mid-inclination orbits of 38-60 degrees


Low cost responsive range operations
Low-Cost Responsive Range Operations

  • Wallops Launch Range is “right-sized” for small spacecraft missions

    • Small spacecraft missions not competing against large ELVs or Shuttle

    • Staff & facilities sized for small orbital missions

  • Wallops has a history & reputation for supporting emerging, low-cost launch vehicles

    • Schedule flexibility allows for development mission complications

    • Safety & project support culture of assisting projects during development


Launch site integration flow
Launch Site Integration Flow

Spacecraft

Plus

Upper Stage

Arrival ~L-30 days

Pad

~L-14 days

Launch!

Range Control Center

Lower Stages

Arrival ~L-30 days

Blockhouse 3



Small satellite launch enablers2
Small Satellite Launch Enablers

  • Low-cost small launch vehicles

  • Inexpensive & responsive launch ranges

  • Ride sharing


Ridesharing
Ridesharing

  • Small ELVs are still larger than necessary for many small satellites

  • Multi-manifesting of small ELVs is critical to ensuring that “Micro-Explorer” spacecraft (50-200 lbs.) mature as a viable class of spacecraft

  • Wallops has developed the Multi-Payload Ejector as a key enabler to exploit small ELVs for spacecraft smaller than 1000 lbs.


Multi payload ejector
Multi-Payload Ejector

  • MPE able to carry >800 lbs. of individual spacecraft

    • 1 primary (up to 200 lbs.)

    • 6 secondaries (up to 100 lbs. each)

    • 12 CubeSat tertiaries (up to 3 lbs. each)

  • Flexible

    • Configurable for any launch vehicle, as primary for smaller ELV & secondary for larger ELVs

    • Can be flown as 1, 2, or 3 segments allowing trade-offs on individual spacecraft masses/volume & orbital altitude

  • Low-cost & simple

    • Completes payload deployments within ½ orbit

    • Motorized spring deployments (no pyrotechnics)

    • Sounding rocket qualified timers

    • Single input from launch vehicle initiates all MPE events

    • Launch vehicle provides only necessary guidance/control

  • Rapid Integration


MPE Integration Flow

Spacecraft I&T

MPE Integration

Vehicle Integration & Test

.

.

.

Spacecraft (S/C) Development

& Test

S/C Arrival @ Wallops

MPE Integration with ELV

S/C Receiving & Inspection

S/C Integration with MPE

T-4

weeks

T-3

weeks

T-2

weeks

T-1

week

Launch

Day



Small satellite launch costs by the pound not by the vehicle
Small Satellite Launch Costs by the PoundNot by the vehicle

  • Component Costs, w/o Spacecraft (Wallops Launch):

    • MPE (NASA): $1.5M

    • I&T (NASA): $300K

    • Range Services (NASA): $1.5M

    • Launch Vehicle $16M (assumes Minotaur I)

      TOTAL: $19.3M

  • Payload Capacity (MPE 3-stack configuration)

    • MPE Structure: ~300 lbs.

    • 1 primary spacecraft: 200 lbs.

    • 6 secondary spacecraft (100 lbs. each): 600 lbs.

    • 12 Cubesats (3 lbs. each) 36 lbs.

      Total Spacecraft mass for 19 spacecraft 836 lbs

  • Cost per payload mass

    • Minotaur I: $23K/payload lb.

    • Falcon I: $13.5K/payload lb.


Small satellite launch enablers3
Small Satellite Launch Enablers

  • Low-cost small launch vehicles

  • Inexpensive & responsive launch ranges

  • Ride sharing


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