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Critical Design Review of STPSat-5 satellite completed

SNC Rendering of STPSat-5 Satellite_Resize - posted on SpaceFlight Insider

Image Credit: SNC

Sierra Nevada Corporation has completed the Critical Design Review (CDR) for the aerospace firm’s STPSat-5 satellite. The spacecraft, produced for the U.S. Department of Defense’s Space Test Program, is now viewed as ready to meet mission requirements and move on to fabrication.

“This successful CDR demonstrates the rapid maturation of the STPSat-5 design, based on our modular SN-50 satellite bus, to support five key space experiments for the Space Test Program,” John Roth, the vice president of business development for SNC’s Space Systems said via a company-issued release. “We’re pleased to have both completed this review and released a detailed Payload Interface Document for our mission partners. This EELV Secondary Payload Adapter (ESPA) ring compatible spacecraft incorporates many recent advances in microsat technologies, including incorporation of a modular green propulsion system. SNC is proud to provide a low-cost and highly flexible solution for science, technology and commercial missions that can be satisfied with a small satellite.”

According to a release issued by the Nevada-based company, some 75 percent of the hardware needed to produce the spacecraft has been “secured” and has “recently begun integration of several key engineering models, including the spacecraft avionics.

“Completion of CDR for STPSat-5 supports the Space Test Program’s charter to rapidly mature spaceflight opportunities for space experiments that provide high value to the Department of Defense,” said Colonel Jason Cothern, Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center, Advanced Systems and Development Directorate. “We look forward to moving into integration and test of this spacecraft in preparation for a 2017 launch.”

Managed by NASA’s Ames Research Center, STPSat-5 is described as being a free-flyer spacecraft for the DoD’s STP office. The office hosts five government payloads provided by the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command, the U.S. Air Force Academy, the Naval Research Laboratory, the Office of Naval Research, and the Air Force Research Laboratory.

In terms of STPSat-5, its science and technology-demonstration payloads will be incorporated into the satellite’s structure at Sierra Nevada’s Space Systems facility in Louisville, Colorado.

Based on SNC’s SN-50 modular microsatellite design, STPSat-5 is designed for operations in low-Earth orbit and can be delivered there in an array of launch configurations. This means it can be sent to orbit atop a wide range of launch vehicles. This satellite will mainly be launched as a secondary payload and is targeted toward Department of Defense as well as NASA science and technology demonstration missions.


Jason Rhian spent several years honing his skills with internships at NASA, the National Space Society and other organizations. He has provided content for outlets such as: Aviation Week & Space Technology,, The Mars Society and Universe Today.

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