REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. -- Sometime early next year a Space-X Falcon 9 rocket will launch. Hitching a ride will be a small satellite. The loaf-of-bread sized small satellite is called ACES RED. It will eventually be attached to the International Space Station as a test unit for future Space and Missile Defense Command small Sats. It's what you might call a "bang-for-the-buck" project.
"That's actually a big part of this experiment. We're trying to determine whether or not we can get the same kind of quality and the same kind of product as a space-rated component out of say...industrial grade," said Mason Nixon, Principal Investigator with SMDC's Space Lab. One of the things that makes this particular unique is its modular design, with circuit boards that can easily be pulled out and replaced.
Once again, the idea is to make a good satellite but save money. Who better to work this project than the college students, grads, interns, newly hired engineers, and contractors who are part of the SMART program at SMDC. Among the goals of SMART is giving experience to young engineers.
"We're trying to focus on building a technical base and so it enables a way to bring in people who have expertise in specific areas that we want," said SMDC Engineer Mathew Hitt.
There is certainly a lot of expertise in the Concepts Analysis Lab.
"A lot of this stuff has never flown before, so it's definitely a unique thing for us to be able to put it in a spacecraft and have it actually do something," said Software Engineer Andrew Webb.
Not many people get to work on a satellite that will make it to space. In this case, everyone who worked on the project believes the result is ready for the station.
"It's not falling apart. We built a tank basically. It's not going to break," said Civil Engineer Jessica Shrontz.
So, International Space Station get ready to welcome a new satellite thanks to some young engineers from Redstone Arsenal and the Space and Missile Defense Command.