General Atomics prepares for first OTB satellite launch

22 May 2019 (Last Updated May 22nd, 2019 10:44)

General Atomics Electromagnetic Systems’ (GA-EMS) Orbital Test Bed (OTB) satellite has arrived at Kennedy Space Center, Cape Canaveral, Florida, US.

General Atomics prepares for first OTB satellite launch
OTB satellite ‘buttoned-up’ for final preparation before shipment to Kennedy Space Center. Credit: General Atomics.

General Atomics Electromagnetic Systems’ (GA-EMS) Orbital Test Bed (OTB) satellite has arrived at Kennedy Space Center, Cape Canaveral, Florida, US.

The spacecraft will now undergo launch preparations ahead of its scheduled launch as part of the US Air Force’s Space Technology Program 2 (STP-2) flight on the SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket.

GA-EMS president Scott Forney said: “The arrival of the OTB spacecraft at Cape Canaveral marks the start of final preparations and integration on board the Falcon Heavy in anticipation of the launch, bringing our hosted payload customers that much closer to executing their missions.

“This will be our first OTB satellite launch, and we are extremely excited to be delivering new technology demonstrations into orbit that will help drive future space exploration.”

OTB satellites have the capability to host multiple payloads on a single platform.

The payloads hosted by GA-EMS’s OTB include Nasa’s deep space atomic clock, a US Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) modular solar array, and an integrated miniaturised electrostatic analyser sensor payload developed by cadets at the US Air Force Academy.

GA-EMS Missile Defense and Space Systems vice-president Nick Bucci said: “OTB’s modularity and versatility allow for the simultaneous launch of multiple demonstration payloads on a single satellite.

“This eliminates the need for customers to bear the costly burden of a dedicated platform and launch.”

The company noted that the simultaneous launch capability offered by the OTB hosted payload platform will help increase the number of flight opportunities while allowing customers to access space in a cost-effective way.

“OTB’s modularity and versatility allow for the simultaneous launch of multiple demonstration payloads on a satellite.”

GA-EMS is also under contract to provide hosted services on two additional OTB satellites that are planned to be launched in 2021 and 2022.

In January this year, the firm received a hosted payload solutions (HoPS) mission delivery order from the USAF Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC) for the Argos Advanced Data Collection System (A-DCS).

The SMC HoPS programme seeks to enable the placement of government payloads on commercial satellites.