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The potential for hosted payloads at NASA

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7 Author(s)
Andraschko, M. ; Langley Res. Center, NASA, Hampton, VA, USA ; Antol, J. ; Baize, R. ; Horan, S.
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The 2010 National Space Policy encourages federal agencies to “actively explore the use of inventive, nontraditional arrangements for acquiring commercial space goods and services to meet United States Government requirements, including...hosting government capabilities on commercial spacecraft”. NASA's Science Mission Directorate has taken an important step towards this goal by adding an option for hosted payload responses to its recent Announcement of Opportunity (AO) for Earth Venture-2 missions. Since NASA selects a significant portion of its science missions through a competitive process, it is useful to understand the implications that this process has on the feasibility of successfully proposing a commercially hosted payload mission. This paper describes some of the impediments associated with proposing a hosted payload mission to NASA, and offers suggestions on how these impediments might be addressed. Commercially hosted payloads provide a novel way to serve the needs of the science and technology demonstration communities at a fraction of the cost of a traditional Geostationary Earth Orbit (GEO) mission. The commercial communications industry launches over 20 satellites to GEO each year. By exercising this repeatable commercial paradigm of privately financed access to space with proven vendors, NASA can achieve science goals at a significantly lower cost than the current dedicated spacecraft and launch vehicle approach affords. Commercial hosting could open up a new realm of opportunities for NASA science missions to make measurements from GEO. This paper also briefly describes two GEO missions recommended by the National Academies of Science Earth Science Decadal Survey, the Geostationary Coastal and Air Pollution Events (GEO-CAPE) mission and the Precipitation and All-weather Temperature and Humidity (PATH) mission. Hosted payload missions recently selected for implementation by the Office of the Chief Technologist are also discussed. F- nally, there are technical differences specific to hosted payloads and the GEO environment that must be considered when planning and developing a hosted payload mission. This paper addresses some of payload accommodation differences from the typical NASA LEO mission, including spacecraft interfaces, attitude control and knowledge, communications, data handling, mission operations, ground systems, and the thermal, radiation, and electromagnetic environment. The paper also discusses technical and programmatic differences such as limits to NASA's involvement with commercial quality assurance processes to conform to the commercial schedule and minimizing the price that makes hosted payloads an attractive option.

Published in:

Aerospace Conference, 2012 IEEE

Date of Conference:

3-10 March 2012

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