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Proceedings Paper

Small satellites (MSTI-3) for remote sensing: pushing the limits of sensor and bus technology
Author(s): William Jeffrey; James C. Fraser; Richard W. Gobel; Richard S. Matlock; Garret L. Schneider
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Paper Abstract

The miniature sensor technology integration (MSTI) program sponsored by the United States Department of Defense (DoD) exploits advances in sensor and small satellite bus technology for theater and national missile defense. MSTI-1 and MSTI-2 were used to demonstrate the capability of the common bus and to build up the integration and management infrastructure to allow for `faster, better, cheaper' missions. MSTI-3 is the newest of the MSTI series and the first to fully exploit the developed infrastructure. Given the foundation laid down by MSTI-1 and MSTI-2, MSTI-3's mission is totally science-driven and demonstrates the quality of science possible from a small satellite in low earth orbit. The MSTI-3 satellite will achieve bus and payload performance historically attributable only to much larger satellites -- while maintaining the cost and schedule advantages inherent in small systems. The MSTI program illustrates the paradigm shift that is beginning to occur and has the mantra: `faster, better, cheaper.' The disciples of smallsat technology have adopted this mantra as a goal -- whereas the MSTI program is demonstrating its reality. The new paradigm illustrated by MSTI-3 bases its foundation on a development philosophy coined the `Three Golden Truths of Small Satellites.' First, bus and payload performance do not need to be sacrificed by a smallsat. Second, big science can be done with a smallsat. And third, a quick timeline minimizes budget exposure and increases the likelihood of a hardware program as opposed to a paper study. These themes are elaborated using MSTI-3 as an example of the tremendous potential small satellites have for making space science more affordable and accessible to a large science community.

Paper Details

Date Published: 9 January 1995
PDF: 11 pages
Proc. SPIE 2317, Platforms and Systems, (9 January 1995); doi: 10.1117/12.198948
Show Author Affiliations
William Jeffrey, Institute for Defense Analyses (United States)
James C. Fraser, Photon Research Associates (United States)
Richard W. Gobel, ANSER, Inc. (United States)
Richard S. Matlock, Ballistic Missile Defense Organization (United States)
Garret L. Schneider, Ballistic Missile Defense Organization (United States)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 2317:
Platforms and Systems
William L. Barnes; Brian J. Horais, Editor(s)

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