Monday, November 27, 2023

Lockheed Martin to demonstrate faster on-orbit satellite sensor calibration

A wideband Electronically Steerable Antenna (ESA) designed by Lockheed Martin is scheduled for launch next month that will help perform missions in space faster once a satellite is in orbit.

Based on an innovative, proprietary design, Lockheed Martin expects to calibrate this new ESA sensor in a fraction of the time it takes to operationalize traditional on-orbit sensors, which historically can take months to be powered on, fully calibrated and ready to perform their mission.

The ESA payload demonstrator will launch aboard an Alpha rocket by Firefly Aerospace.

“The ESA payload is built on a novel, scalable design, using highly reliable commercial parts for quick, mass-producibility,” Lockheed Martin said in a company press release. “For this demonstration, it was integrated on a Terran Orbital Nebula small satellite bus.”

The payload is nicknamed Tantrum, developed in Lockheed Martin Space’s Ignite organization.

“For this demonstration, Lockheed Martin has invested its own resources and is embracing more calculated risks from initial development through on-orbit operations to bring new technologies to the forefront of space faster and to keep our customers ahead of ready,” said Sonia Phares, vice president of Ignite at Lockheed Martin Space.

The payload demonstrator is expected to launch aboard Alpha in December.

Lockheed Martin also is producing several other self-funded technology demonstrator spacecraft, including Pony Express 2, which will further demonstrate mesh networking among satellites, and the Tactical Satellite, which will demonstrate on-orbit processing, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities.

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