General Atomics Electromagnetic Systems (GA-EMS) has secured a hosted payload solutions (HoPS) mission delivery order for the Argos advanced data collection system (A-DCS) from the US Air Force (USAF) Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC).
The indefinite-delivery indefinite-quantity (IDIQ) contract was awarded on behalf of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
GA-EMS will launch a 110kg orbital test bed (OTB) satellite and integrate the Argos A-DCS payload to be provided by the French Space Agency.
The objective of the SMC HoPS programme is to enable the placement of government payloads on board commercial satellites.
Using the hosted payloads concept, government agencies leverage available capacity on commercial satellites to send additional transponders, instruments, or other space-bound items.
GA-EMS president Scott Forney said: “Our OTB platform is well suited to the needs of customers like the airforce, as the demand for more cost-efficient solutions to deliver technologies to space continues to grow.
“By leveraging our scalable architectures, volume-efficient packaging, manufacturing expertise, and on-orbit experience, we can be more responsive and tailor platforms to meet our customer’s mission objectives.”
Argos A-DCS is designed to collect data from sensors and transmitters located globally and distribute it for use in ocean buoy tracking, wildlife and fishery monitoring, and maritime security, as well as other non-environmental applications.
According to GA-EMS, the company-hosted satellites can launch payloads into low Earth orbit without incurring the cost and schedule overhead normally involved with commissioning a full satellite mission.
The OTB satellite is designed to support a single mission payload or the simultaneous launch of multiple payloads on a single platform.