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SDL-Supported SmallSat Launched from International Space Station

Tuesday, May. 23, 2017


Satellite for High Accuracy Radar Calibration

The Air Force Research Laboratory successfully deployed its Satellite for High Accuracy Radar Calibration, also known as SHARC, into a low-Earth orbit from the International Space Station. (Credit: NASA)


Satellite for High Accuracy Radar Calibration

Utah State University's Space Dynamics Laboratory developed the SHARC flight software, radio interface circuit board, and provided fabrication and assembly expertise for the satellite’s main subsystems. (Credit: NASA)


The Air Force Research Laboratory successfully deployed its Satellite for High Accuracy Radar Calibration, also known as SHARC, into a low-Earth orbit from the International Space Station. Utah State University’s Space Dynamics Laboratory developed the SHARC flight software, radio interface circuit board, and provided fabrication and assembly expertise for the satellite’s main subsystems.

    “Following SHARC’s successful launch aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V 401 rocket and delivery to the International Space Station as part of the Orbital ATK -7 mission, the spacecraft was deployed from the ISS. Initial data indicates that SHARC is performing as designed,” said Lance Fife, SDL’s director for strategic and military space. “SDL is honored to be a part of the AFRL Small Satellite Portfolio team. The success of this mission is a testament to AFRL’s exemplary leadership and highlights the expertise and professionalism of the dedicated employees at SDL.”

SHARC was developed as part of a government-industry team under direction from AFRL to demonstrate the capability of actively obtaining data from a small satellite platform to generate more precise positions of satellites at given times. This information can then be used to calibrate ground-based radar systems for the Department of Defense.

SDL developed the SHARC satellite flight software that monitors and controls all aspects of the satellite. The software is based on innovative modular technology sponsored by AFRL that enables the software to be rapidly configured to support various satellite components and payloads. The flight software provides the command and data handling functionality to operate key satellites subsystems, including communications, guidance and navigation, state-of-health monitoring and autonomous fault handling, the electronic power system, telemetry, and satellite operational modes.

SDL also developed the ground system software used to communicate with the satellite. This software is used for mission planning, to uplink commands to the spacecraft from satellite operators, and downlink satellite bus and telemetry data. The ground system software provides operator displays and initial processing of satellite data.

SHARC used a specialized electronic circuit board designed and manufactured by SDL to provide an interface between the line-of-sight radio and the spacecraft electronics.

SDL supported spacecraft integration and test activities at AFRL and characterized the performance of the solar array that provides power to the SHARC spacecraft in SDL’s innovative Nanosat Operation Verification and Test Facility. SDL’s testing experts use NOVA to characterize and verify small satellite systems and system performance. Designed specifically for small satellites, the NOVA facility provides equipment for specific tests to reduce preflight risk and verify flight requirements. It augments SDL’s comprehensive manufacturing, environmental testing, and calibration facilities.

As a nonprofit unit of the Utah State University Research Foundation, SDL has been solving the technical challenges faced by the military, science community, and industry since 1959. SDL is one of 14 University Affiliated Research Centers that provide and maintain core capabilities for the Department of Defense. SDL’s core competencies include electro-optical sensor systems research and development; ground, airborne, and space rated instruments and payloads development, test and evaluation, integration, validation, and operations; data compression/decompression and data visualization for sensor analysis, data exploitation and data fusion; phenomenology measurements modeling and simulation; sensor modeling and simulation; and small/micro satellite sensor systems and components. For more information, visit www.sdl.usu.edu.

Media Contact:

Eric Warren
Space Dynamics Laboratory
Utah State University Research Foundation
(435) 881-8439
eric.warren@usurf.usu.edu





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