Subscribe free to our newsletters via your
. 24/7 Space News .

Orbital Selected By NASA for TESS Astrophysics Satellite
by Staff Writers
Dulles VA (SPX) Apr 26, 2013

The TESS mission was awarded under NASA's Explorer series of lower cost and highly productive space science satellites.

Orbital Sciences has been selected by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to design, manufacture, integrate and test a new astrophysics satellite that will perform a full-sky search for exoplanets around nearby stars.

The Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) satellite program, which will be based on Orbital's proven LEOStar-2 spacecraft platform, will be executed at Orbital's satellite production and testing facility in Dulles, VA. The four-year contract is valued at approximately $75 million.

The mission of the TESS spacecraft is to provide prime exoplanet candidates for further characterization by the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), as well as other large ground-based and space-based telescopes in the future. The planned launch of the TESS spacecraft in mid-2017 is well matched to JWST's scheduled launch in 2018 to maintain momentum in NASA's exoplanet program.

"We are honored to have the opportunity to support MIT and Goddard in this pioneering astrophysics mission that will result in the first space-borne all-sky exoplanet transit survey," said Mr. Mike Miller, Orbital's Senior Vice President of Science and Environmental Satellite Programs.

"Our reliable and affordable line of LEOStar spacecraft, coupled with MIT's world-class science leadership and Goddard's experienced mission management team, will provide an innovative space science mission for NASA in the most cost-effective way possible."

Chosen for its scientific value and low-risk development plan, the TESS mission will perform an all-sky survey using an unique array of telescopes to discover exoplanets orbiting nearby stars and will seek to identify habitable, Earth-like planets.

TESS will further the study of small exoplanets, first uncovered by NASA's Kepler spacecraft, by examining an immense quantity of small planets that surround the sky's brightest stars.

The stars examined by Kepler are fainter and more difficult to study than those TESS will survey, and past ground-based observations have been limited to only giant exoplanets, thereby ensuring that TESS will provide a compelling new catalog of stars hosting transiting exoplanets, suitable for future missions to study.

The TESS mission was awarded under NASA's Explorer series of lower cost and highly productive space science satellites. Orbital has built multiple Explorer satellites for NASA in the past, including the NuSTAR, Swift, GALEX, AIM and IBEX spacecraft, all of which are currently operational and providing valuable scientific data.

The TESS project is being led by Principal Investigator Dr. George Ricker of Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge, MA, and mission management is performed by NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center.

The TESS mission features partners from the MIT Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research (MKI) and MIT Lincoln Laboratory, NASA's Ames Research Center, the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, The Aerospace Corporation, and the Space Telescope Science Institute. The two-year astrophysics mission will be funded by a $200 million award from NASA.

The TESS mission will rely on Orbital's LEOStar-2 platform, a flexible, high-performance spacecraft for space and Earth science, remote sensing and other applications.

Spacecraft built on the LEOStar-2 bus have such performance options as redundancy, propulsion capability, high data rate communications, and high-agility/high-accuracy pointing. The LEOStar-2 series of spacecraft have supported multiple missions for commercial and government customers over the past 15 years.


Related Links
Orbital Sciences Corporation
Lands Beyond Beyond - extra solar planets - news and science
Life Beyond Earth

Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

Star-and Planet-Forming Regions May Hold Key to Life's Chirality
Moffett Field CA (SPX) Apr 26, 2013
Life on Earth is made of left-handed amino acids (L-amino acids). The question of why organisms on Earth consist of L-amino acids instead of D-amino acids or consist of D-sugar instead of L-sugar is still an unresolved riddle. Recent research into star and planet formation throws new light on this question. A research team with Jungmi Kwon (GUAS/NAOJ) has performed deep imaging linear and ... read more

Characterizing The Lunar Radiation Environment

Russia rekindles Moon exploration program, intends setting up first human outposts there

Pre-existing mineralogy may survive lunar impacts

Lunar cycle determines hunting behaviour of nocturnal gulls

Dutch reality show seeks one-way astronauts for Mars

Accurate pointing by Curiosity

NASA Mars Orbiter Images May Show 1971 Soviet Lander

Opportunity is in position for solar conjunction at 'Cape York' on the rim of Endeavour Crater

Google's Brin keeps spotlight on future technologies

Mysterious water on Jupiter came from comet smash

What makes a good astronaut?

NASA urged to preserve funding for planetary science missions

Yuanwang III, VI depart for space-tracking missions

Shenzhou's Shadow Crew

Shenzhou 10 sent to launch site

China's Next Women Astronauts

ISS Communications Test Bed Checks Out; Experiments Begin

Spacewalkers Deploy Plasma Experiment, Install Navigational Aid

The New and Improved ISS Facilities Brochure

Full tank, please For ATV Einstein

Vega's three-satellite payload is integrated and ready for launch

NASA Seeks Innovative Suborbital Flight Technology Proposals

Stephane Israel named Chairman and CEO of Arianespace

Launch pad problem scrubs launch of Antares rocket for NASA

Mysterious Hot Spots Observed In A Cool Red Supergiant

Orbital Selected By NASA for TESS Astrophysics Satellite

Star-and Planet-Forming Regions May Hold Key to Life's Chirality

Kepler Discovers Its Smallest Habitable Zone Planets

Space debris problem now urgent - scientists

Nothing Bugs These NASA Aeronautical Researchers

US eases export rules on aerospace parts

MEADS Low Frequency Sensor Cues Multifunction Fire Control Radar in Test

The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2014 - Space Media Network. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement