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SpaceDev To Begin Manufacturing Microsatellites For Missile Defense Agency

File photo: A SpaceDev microsatellite in the workshop.
by Staff Writers
Poway CA (SPX) Aug 24, 2006
SpaceDev, Inc. has been authorized by the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) to proceed with Phase III of its Distributed Sensing Experiment program. This MDA award is the continuation of a five-year, four-phase, $43-million contract to design and develop affordable high-performance networked microsatellites to support national missile defense.

The third phase is valued at approximately $29 million, of which SpaceDev is now being funded for $6.5 million, with additional funding expected in GFY 2007. The objectives of Phase III are to assemble, integrate and test three advanced, networked microsatellites in preparation for launch. The phase is expected to be completed within the next three years.

"SpaceDev successfully passed a Critical Design Review with the MDA prior to the award of Phase III, and this review was the last milestone on the path to building the system," said Mark N. Sirangelo, SpaceDev Chief Executive Officer.

"Our customer gave us the green light to proceed with manufacturing, integrating and testing after thoroughly reviewing our designs, technical approach, schedule and hardware demonstration. SpaceDev's flat-sat test unit has progressed rapidly, successfully demonstrating key hardware and software functionality, and enabling us to achieve this significant milestone in the production of microsatellites for the MDA."

The fourth and final phase of the program would consist of a satellite launch and demonstration, along with the provision of support during the life of the experiment. The first and second phases, already completed, involved a detailed mission analysis and preliminary microsatellite design, and the design and detailed development of the system, respectively.

Under this contract, SpaceDev's comprehensive "plug and play" microsat hardware and software will be implemented in the MDA modular microsatellites. The project-specific innovations will also include the implementation of a Linux operating system, object-oriented CORBA software modules, IP communications, as in SpaceDev's CHIPSat, and commercial industry-standard hardware interfaces. This modular approach is expected to reduce risk, as well as save time and money.

SpaceDev is also offering this modular "plug and play" hardware and software in its MMB-100 low-cost, off-the-shelf commercial microsat, as well.

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