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The FORMOSA Satellite Series No. 3/Constellation Observing System for Meteorology, Ionosphere and Climate (FORMOSAT-3/COSMIC) spacecraft constellation consisting of six low-earth-orbiting satellites is the world's first operational Global Positioning System (GPS) radio occultation mission. The mission has been jointly developed by the National Space Organization of Taiwan and the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research of the U.S. in collaboration with the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, NASA, and the Naval Research Laboratory for three onboard payloads, including a GPS Occultation Receiver, a triband beacon, and a tiny ionospheric photometer. The FORMOSAT-3/COSMIC mission was successfully launched from Vandenberg into the same orbit plane of the designated 516-km circular parking orbit altitude on April 15, 2006. After the six satellites completed the in-orbit checkout activities, the mission was started immediately at the parking orbit for in-orbit checkout, calibration, and experiment of three onboard payloads. Individual spacecraft thrust burns for orbit raising were performed to begin the constellation deployment of the satellites into six separate orbit planes. All six FORMOSAT-3/COSMIC satellites are maintained in a good state of health except spacecraft flight model no. 2, which has had power shortages. Five out of the six satellites had reached their final mission orbits of 800 km as of November 2007. This paper provides an overview of the constellation spacecraft design, constellation mission operations, constellation deployment timeline evolution, associated spacecraft mass property and moment of inertia results, orbit-raising challenges, and lessons learned during the orbit-raising operations.
Geoscience and Remote Sensing, IEEE Transactions on (Volume:46 , Issue: 11 )
Date of Publication: Nov. 2008