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UK-DMC-1 to take well-earned retirement
by Staff Writers
Guildford UK (SPX) Nov 28, 2011

illustration only

UK- DMC- 1, one of the first generation Disaster Monitoring Constellation satellites, is to be retired from service after over 8 years in orbit. UK-DMC-1, was launched on 27th September 2003 with fellow Constellation satellites NigeriaSat-1 and BILSAT-1 from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome on board a Kosmos 3-M rocket.

It has exceeded its original 5-year design lifetime by over 50% with an impressive 8 years and 1 month of operation. UK-DMC-1's imaging workload has now passed to UK-DMC2 and the new generation of DMC satellites, providing data continuity for DMCii's customers.

UK-DMC-1 was part of the first-ever microsatellite Earth Observation constellation, which introduced remarkable EO abilities for both national and international benefit.

The constellation is the work of a pioneering international co-operation consortium led by SSTL and made up of six countries: Algeria, China, Nigeria, Turkey, Spain and the United Kingdom.

In addition to UK-DMC-1's remote sensing capability, the SSTL100 based satellite also carried several experimental payloads that have proved groundbreaking in themselves.

The Cisco router in Low Earth Orbit (CLEO) was a joint project between NASA Glenn Research Center, SSTL and Cisco Systems. It tested delay-tolerant networking in space and led the way for developments towards an interplanetary Internet system.

The GPS Reflectometry experiment on UK-DMC-1 was the first dedicated experiment to demonstrate the viability of using reflected GPS signals from space to measure geophysical parameters, such as ocean weather.

For the first time, spaceborne signals were received by the satellite from reflections off sea, ice, snow and land and a follow-on instrument will be flying on TechDemoSat-1.

UK-DMC-1's Resistojet technology was also the first of its kind. This water-based propulsion system proved to be both an efficient and low cost alternative to the use of hazardous propellants which require infrastructure and can cause complications at high pressures.

UK-DMC-1 retired gracefully; like all recent SSTL missions it was prepared for its 'End of Mission' as a precautionary measure to minimize space debris.

This process began in September 2010 and involved using up its remaining propellant to passivate the satellite, and also lowering the orbit to reduce its remaining time in space before burning up in the Earth's atmosphere.

When this work was completed the satellite continued to be fully operational, continuing to relay image data down to SSTL's groundstation.

Why retire now? Well, the satellite's battery ages over the mission lifetime and has now reached a point, well beyond its original mission design life, where it is unable to provide enough power to support full payload operations.

With this in mind, the SSTL Spacecraft Operations Team have suspended the UK-DMC-1 workload, and the satellite is now only monitored periodically from SSTL Mission Control in Guildford.


Related Links
Surrey Satellite Technology Limited
Disaster Monitoring Constellation
Earth Observation News - Suppiliers, Technology and Application

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