ALEXANDRIA, VA (December 15, 2010)-Praxis announced today that it has completed on orbit checkout of the second Satellite Communications Payload (SCP) for the Ocean Data Telemetry Microsat Link (ODTML). This payload is aboard the U.S. Air Force STPSat-2 spacecraft managed by the Space Development and Test Directorate at Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico. This SCP joins the first, flown on the Operationally Responsive Space office's TacSat-3 satellite since May 2009, to form a two-unit constellation of operational SCP transponders. A third is scheduled to fly on the TacSat-4 satellite in June 2011.
The SCP provides message data to and from a variety of sensor systems via the Ground-Space Communications Terminal (GSCT) radio. Designed for ocean environment monitoring buoys and gliders that report such conditions as temperature, salinity, currents, and surface conditions worldwide, the GSCT also supports a wide variety of Department of Defense systems including active sonobuoys, trail monitoring sensors, seismic sensors, and other sampling systems.
"Activation of this transponder greatly increases the opportunity for realistic operational testing and future operational use of the ODTML system," said Mr. Eric Vandersall, the Program Manager. "Unlike the first SCP, flown on the TacSat-3 optical imaging payload, this unit is available to the users 24 hours a day, seven days a week without prior coordination with the satellite operators. This gives us the flexibility to conduct operations at any time, world-wide, and for the first time to test the ODTML system with open ocean drifters and gliders, which move with ocean currents and may move in unplanned and unpredictable patterns." TacSat-3 and its SCP remain operational and available to the GSCT users.
The ODTML system uses a "store and forward" data management technique in which the SCP holds messages gathered from remote sensors on board the spacecraft, and then downloads the data when it passes over a ground station. Each sensor has a unique address, similar to an Internet address, which allows the system to keep track of which sensors are sending messages. The GSCT transmits messages to the first available SCP. The SCP transmits messages to either the primary ground terminal in Alexandria, VA or the secondary ground terminal on Guam. Once messages are downlinked to either ground station, they are immediately available through a secure web interface that ensures that data are accessible only to authorized users.
Development of the ODTML system began in 2002 with funding from the Office of Naval Research (ONR) Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program. Continuing efforts are funded under the ONR's Innovative Naval Prototype (INP) program.
Praxis, Inc. is a leading provider of innovative scientific analysis and engineering solutions to the U.S. government. Our scientists and engineers work to solve complex technical problems in the areas of space systems, instrumentation, defense and intelligence, and information technology. Praxis, Inc. is headquartered at 5845 Richmond Highway, Suite 700, Alexandria, VA. For additional information, visit the Praxis website.
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ODTML Program Manager, Eric Vandersall, (703) 837-8400.