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  • Satellite Evolution

Terran Orbital completes NASA Pathfinder demonstrator 3 bus less than one week after launch

Terran Orbital Corporation, a global leader in satellite solutions, primarily serving the United States aerospace and defense industry, has announced its Pathfinder Technology Demonstrator 3 (PTD-3) satellite has completed bus commissioning with all health and status checkouts nominal.

NASA Pathfinder Technology Demonstrator 3 transmits telemetry and receives commands from Earth along radio frequency bands

Terran Orbital designed and built the PTD-3 satellite in support of NASA’s PTD series of missions. The missions will test the operation of a variety of novel small satellite technologies in low-Earth orbit while providing significant enhancements to performance. The successful demonstration of new subsystem technologies throughout multiple planned PTD missions will increase small spacecraft capabilities to enable future exploration missions and science.

PTD-3 carries the TeraByte InfraRed Delivery (TBIRD) payload developed by MIT Lincoln Laboratory (MITLL) and managed by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. Funding for the TBIRD technology payload is provided by NASA’s Space Communications and Navigation (SCaN) program in the Space Operations Mission Directorate. NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate’s (STMD) Small Spacecraft Technology (SST) program provides funding for the spacecraft, payload integration, mission operations, and launch. The PTD-3 spacecraft will demonstrate a space-to-ground data transfer capability at orders of magnitude faster than previously demonstrated technologies – opening doors to large volume data communications and data accessibility for advanced space exploration while delivering multiple terabytes of data per day to a single ground station.

The PTD series of missions each utilize a commercial spacecraft bus and avionics developed by Terran Orbital. This spacecraft platform easily accommodates a variety of mission payloads, while leveraging the production efficiency and flight heritage of a proven satellite bus. Terran Orbital also serves as the payload integrator for the PTD missions and performs on-orbit mission operations from the Terran Orbital Mission Operations Center in Irvine, CA.

“Terran Orbital is extremely proud PTD-3 bus commissioning was completed mere days after reaching orbit,” said Terran Orbital Co-Founder, Chairman, and Chief Executive Officer Marc Bell. “The technologies featured in PTD-3 will greatly benefit the ways we measure and observe activity on Earth and how we communicate that data. Creating the technology and satellite capabilities that fuel NASA’s PTD missions is an absolute privilege. Terran Orbital looks forward to continuing our on-orbit operations of PTD-3 and designing, building, integrating, and operating the additional upcoming PTD satellites.”


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