Working with Tyvak under a Cooperative Research & Development Agreement (CRADA), LLNL developed an advanced dual optical telescope system for the Tyvak-0130 spacecraft that is now supplying thousands of images taken in orbit.
Tyvak, a Terran Orbital Company is pleased to announce the successful completion of in-orbit system checkout and commissioning of its Tyvak-0130 satellite. These necessary check points begin soon after launch and focus primarily on testing the satellite’s essential systems and protocols. Tyvak-0130 was launched as a rideshare on SpaceX Starlink L-26 on May 15, 2021 from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center and has already transmitted over 4,000 pictures back to earth.
The Tyvak-0130 mission is to demonstrate advanced capabilities for space domain awareness (SDA), earth observation, and astronomy. SDA is a relatively new concept placing space in the same military consideration of air, sea or land on the earth. Tyvak-0130 features an extremely stable space position control system that includes three star-tracker cameras and four ultra-smooth reaction wheels. The satellite also boasts a high-performance flight computer all developed by Tyvak and an advanced optical telescope system called GEOStare2, which was developed in collaboration with the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL).
The GEOStare2, is an evolution of LLNL’s GEOStare1 system which was successfully demonstrated on Tyvak-61C. GEOStare2 includes two co-boresighted imaging channels that feature LLNL’s monolithic optics telescope technology. Monolithic optics telescopes are reflective designs that are built upon a single ultra-high purity fused silica block. The compact nature of the monolithic telescope enables smaller imaging systems to function without compromising performance. These telescopes are extremely robust and provide clearer visual representations with no temperature interference, and present no need for an in-flight focus adjustment. “Our payload is operating very well; we’re ahead of schedule on the checkout,” said LLNL astrophysicist Wim de Vries, an associate program leader for the Lab’s Space Science and Security Program. “The satellite is functioning extremely well.”
The Medium field-of-view imager is optimized for high sensitivity for SDA and astronomy applications. This imager has a sensitive- backside-illuminated 2 Megapixel CMOS sensor. This imager features a platescale of 3.9 arcseconds per pixel and sensitivity to 14th magnitude stars (the dimmest object visible with the naked eye is typically magnitude 6.5) in a single 1-second photo.
“We are more than pleased with the quality and resolution of the images we have been receiving from Tyvak-0130, says Marc Bell, CEO of Terran Orbital, our collaboration with LLNL has been incredibly successful thus far and we are more than optimistic about the future.”
With the completion of commissioning activities, Tyvak and LLNL will next focus on a comprehensive set of capability demonstration experiments related to space domain awareness, responsive and on-demand terrestrial imaging with minimal delay, and space science.