Home > Spaceflight > SwRI To Build Miniature Solar Observatory For Manned Suborbital Flight

SwRI To Build Miniature Solar Observatory For Manned Suborbital Flight


Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) has received funding from NASA to build a miniature, portable solar observatory for developing and testing innovative instrumentation in suborbital flight.

The SwRI Solar Instrument Pointing Platform (SSIPP) will fly on new, commercial manned suborbital craft, such as XCOR’s Lynx spacecraft, to enable spaceborne science and instrument development at a fraction of the cost of unmanned sounding rockets.

SSIPP is a self-contained unit that is bolted in place of a passenger seat on the Lynx. In flight, it optically locks onto the Sun, providing steering feedback to the pilot and delivering a clean, stabilized view of the Sun to a small instrument mounted on an optical workbench inside the unit.

“The biggest challenge for new space instrumentation is the high cost barrier for entry into service,” said SSIPP team leader Dr. Craig DeForest, a staff scientist in the Planetary Science Directorate of SwRI’s Space Science and Engineering Division. “Until now, making a new instrument has meant building and testing a complete, custom, self-contained observatory each time.”

Full Story: http://www.swri.org/9what/releases/2012/ssipp.htm

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