8:44 PM

Bigger than a

breadbox, but
not by much

NASA controllers based at Vandenberg AFB in Calfornia sent three microsatellites into space Wednesday morning, after the successful airborne launch of the Pegasus rocket carrying the satellites from a modified L-1011 carrier aircraft.

NASA's Space Technology 5 (ST5) Project is building and testing three smaller satellites called micro-satellites. Each weigh only 55 pounds when fully fueled and resembles a very large birthday cake at 20.7 inches across and 18.7 inches high.
The three ST5 satellites -- each no bigger than a portable television -- will conduct six different technology tests. If the project is successful in demonstrating that a number of small satellites can be networked together to act like one big satellite, we could see the day when a hundred or more satellites monitor the weather at one time.
This was bound to happen, as electronics just keep getting smaller and smaller. And because of their diminutive size, all three micro-sats will launch on the same rocket from a stacked position. The ST5 Project designed, built, and tested a new innovative Pegasus rack that will deploy each satellite like a spinning Frisbee.

Although small in size compared to other satellites, each of the ST-5 satellites is considered "full service," meaning they contain power, propulsion, communications, guidance, navigation, and control functions found in spacecraft that are much larger. After launching, each of the micro-sats will be positioned in a "string of pearls" configuration about 25-90 miles apart.

Read all about it at nasa.gov.

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