General Atomics Announces NASA Deep Space Atomic Clock in Nominal Operation
General Atomics Electromagnetic Systems (GA-EMS) announced that in early November NASA ended the commissioning phase of the Deep Space Atomic Clock (DSAC), the primary payload on-board GA-EMS’ Orbital Test Bed (OTB) satellite, with DSAC now in nominal operation to demonstrate its capabilities supporting deep space navigation and exploration. OTB was launched from Cape Canaveral on June 25, 2019 on a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket.
“OTB continues to operate nominally, and we are excited that DSAC is performing as anticipated,” stated Scott Forney, president of GA-EMS. “We continue to provide operation services to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) and NASA for the currently scheduled year-long trial of DSAC’s functionality and utility for one-way-based space navigation. We are very excited to be supporting a project that has the potential to change the future of deep space navigation.”
DSAC is a miniaturized, ultra-precise, mercury-ion atomic clock designed and built at NASA’s JPL for NASA Space Technology Mission Directorate’s Technology Demonstration Missions Program. DSAC provides extreme accuracy and greater stability than today’s best navigation clocks to support exploration deeper into the solar system, as well as potentially provide benefits to Earth users worldwide.
“In addition to DSAC, commissioning of the other demonstration payloads on-board OTB continues according to each customer’s schedule,” stated Nick Bucci, vice president of Missile Defense and Space Systems at GA-EMS. “We anticipate OTB to remain mission capable for up to seven years, providing customers with a significant timeframe to perform and complete their individual mission objectives.”
GA-EMS’ OTB is a configurable, versatile platform designed to space-qualify multiple payloads on a single satellite. OTB increases the number of flight opportunities for customers looking to launch their payload into orbit without bearing the costly burden of designing, building and launching a dedicated spacecraft.GA-EMS works closely with customers to design and build OTB satellites that simultaneously meet multiple customer mission objectives and requirements. Launch and mission operation services are also provided by GA-EMS to support the full mission lifecycle for each customer payload.