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General Atomics Completes Successful NASA Deep Space Atomic Clock Mission

General Atomics Electromagnetic Systems (GA-EMS) announced today the completion of the successful NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) Deep Space Atomic Clock (DSAC) mission. The DSAC was the primary payload on board GA-EMS’ Orbital Test Bed (OTB) satellite that was launched on June 25th, 2019. GA-EMS provided operations support services for the DSAC mission for over 2 years from the company’s spacecraft development and mission operations facilities in Colorado.

“I am extremely proud of the GA-EMS team that worked diligently through the design, build, integration, on-orbit operations, and through to completion of the NASA JPL DSAC mission,” stated Scott Forney, president of GA-EMS. “GA-EMS’ OTB satellite operated superbly and demonstrated the efficacy of the platform to support critical missions and help customers affordably demonstrate and validate their technologies in space. The success of the DSAC mission on board the OTB paves the way for future efforts to advance critical space-based technologies and get them on orbit with reliable, robust satellite designs.”

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. The DSAC mission on board the OTB satellite demonstrated significantly improved timing stability over other atomic clocks in operation on GPS satellites assuring the capability to measure time consistently over long periods to support deep space navigation and exploration.

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Since the start of the DSAC mission, the satellite completed more than 12,000 orbits around the earth totaling more than 525,000,000 miles.

“It was an honor to support NASA JPL’s DSAC mission on GA-EMS’ OTB satellite and help advance the future of deep space navigation,” stated Nick Bucci, vice president for GA-EMS Missile Defense and Space Systems. “The satellite has now transitioned to extended life operations in preparations to conduct a variety of experiments with the remaining payloads to determine and analyze spacecraft capability, calibrations, and proof of concept. The data collected will be used to inform our continuous efforts to improve capability, enhance spacecraft hosting services, and deliver highly capable space systems to government and industry customers.”

GA-EMS’ hosted payload services provide a unique opportunity for customers to launch experimental hardware and payloads into orbit without incurring the overhead of commissioning a dedicated satellite mission. GA-EMS has a breadth of expertise in small satellite mission experience and services to include early concepts through to on-orbit operations.

Source: General Atomics
Date: Oct 13, 2021
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