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Space


MightySat

The MightySat I program is an USAF satellite that demonstrated new technologies in space. It was the first in a series of low-cost Air Force Research Laboratory small satellites to quickly and inexpensively explore, demonstrate, and transition space technologies from the research phase to operational use. The 140-pound satellite was launched from the Space Shuttle Endeavor in December 1998 and performed robustly in orbit, with no spacecraft anomalies during its mission. MightySat I's mission ended when it re-entered the atmosphere at 1711 Zulu on 21 November 99. Operators from the Space and Missile Systems Center Test and Evaluation Directorate (SMC/TE) monitored on-orbit performance from their center at Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico. The MightySat II program is a follow-on series of spacecraft that will provide AFRL with a "lab bench" for responsively testing emerging technologies to ensure their readiness for operational Air Force missions, such as Picosatellite technologies and Hyperspectral Imaging.

MightySat II.1, the first satellite in the second series of MightySat spacecraft, is a robust, 3 axis stabilized platform that continues the "space lab-bench" concept of the MightySat program. On July 19, 2000, MSat II.1 was successfully launched from VAFB on the Air Force's new Minotaur launch vehicle into a 550KM sun synchronized polar orbit. MSat II.1's 10 payloads are comprised of both stand-alone experiments and experimental bus components. MightySat II.1 features its primary payload, the Fourier Transform Hyperspectral Imager (FTHSI) and has successfully been providing the first HSI images from space. Additionally, FTHSI demonstrates the benefits of an alternative method of hyperspectral imaging using a monolithic glass interferometer and on-board image data processing. Also, a pair of tethered, autonomous Picosats will be ejected late in the MSat II.1's mission, helping to demonstrate dynamics of ejecting small bodies from the main spacecraft and as a pathfinder use of small satellites in "constellations." The 263 lb. MightySat II.1 also features a solar array concentrator, a shaped memory alloy experiment and a new generation of miniature SGLS S-band transponder including encryption capability. The multi-functional composite structure of the MightySat II.1 bus provides insight into developing spacecraft structures combining both thermal and structural properties aimed at optimizing mass, cost and construction simplicity. MightySat II.1 mission operations are conducted through the RDT&E Support Center (RSC) of SMC/TE at Kirtland AFB.




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