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XCOR Presents New Platforms For Suborbital Science at AGU
by Staff Writers
Mojave CA (SPX) Dec 14, 2014

The SwRI Solar Instrument Pointing Platform (SSIPP).

XCOR Aerospace presents new instruments for solar observation and atmospheric phenomena measurement, alongside its full scale Lynx spacecraft, December 15-19 at the American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting in San Francisco. Both instruments - the Southwest Research Institute's (SwRI) Solar Instrument Pointing Platform (SSIPP) and KickSat's sprite, will demonstrate future platforms for commercial suborbital science.

"We're excited to be able to show the SwRI SSIPP and KickSat sprite to the scientific community for the first time at AGU," says Khaki Rodway, XCOR's Director of Payload Sales and Operations. "We hope that by putting these instruments alongside the Lynx full scale model, scientists will be able to see a holistic view of the capabilities for suborbital science."

The SSIPP will examine solar wave dynamics above the Earth's atmosphere while onboard the Lynx.

"SSIPP uses a classic, two-stage pointing system similar to larger spacecraft, but in this case the first stage is the Lynx pilot who will initially steer the instrument toward the Sun," says SwRI Systems Engineer Jed Diller.

Principal investigator Dr Craig DeForest adds: "Using a reusable suborbital commercial spacecraft for the SSIPP development effort improves on a traditional space instrument development process that goes back to the dawn of the space age."

The KickSat sprite, which is generically known as a chipsat, is only the size of a couple of postage stamps, but has many capabilities of larger spacecraft such as memory, sensors, radio transceiver, and solar cells.

"It is essentially a very small package that becomes a very large, wide aperture sensor," says Andrew Filo, one of the developers behind the chipsats' deployer.

Co-inventor Matthew Reyes, adds: "The direct scientific measurement of natural phenomena from outer space has generally been cost-prohibitive for most researchers' budgets. The availability of new commercial spacecraft and crowdfunding has opened new opportunities for scientists to perform low cost, highly collaborative research."

Rodway will discuss these instruments, and other Lynx capabilities for suborbital science, in the AGU session Next Generation Instrumentation in Solar and Space Physics: Critical Measurements from Low-Cost Missions/Platforms at 11:50am, December 19 in 2011 Moscone West.

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