SSL’s PODS to Deploy SmallSats to Supersynchronous Orbit
SSL has partnered with a team at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) and the University of Michigan (UM) to conduct a Phase A mission study under NASA’s Explorers Program. SSL’s role in the mission, called the Sun Radio Interferometer Space Experiment (SunRISE), is to provide a ride beyond Geosynchronous Earth Orbit (GEO) for a constellation of science-gathering small satellites. SSL will use its Payload Orbital Delivery System (PODS) technology to dispense the small satellites on-orbit as free-flyers.
Mission Principal Investigator Justin Kasper, associate professor at the University of Michigan’s Climate and Space Sciences and Engineering Department, will lead the SunRISE team that will use the small satellite constellation, operating as a Synthetic Aperture Radio (SAR) telescope, to address the critical heliophysics problems of how solar energetic particles are accelerated and released into interplanetary space.
According to SSL, by sharing a ride to space on an SSL-built satellite with PODS, the SunRISE mission benefits from the frequency of commercial launch schedules and a significantly reduced launch cost compared to a dedicated mission. SSL developed PODS in conjunction with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), with the expectation that it will play a key role in enabling cost-effective, high tempo access to space for small payloads on a variety of commercial, government, and scientific missions beyond Low Earth Orbit (LEO).