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Nanosatellite program at Sandia National Laboratories

Description: The concept of building extremely small satellites which, either independently or as a collective, can perform missions which are comparable to their much larger cousins, has fascinated scientists and engineers for several years now. In addition to the now commonplace microelectronic integrated circuits, the more recent advent of technologies such as photonic integrated circuits (PIC's) and micro-electromechanical systems (MEMS) have placed such a goal within their grasp. Key to the acceptance of this technology will be the ability to manufacture these very small satellites in quantity without sacrificing their performance or versatility. In support of its nuclear treaty verification, proliferation monitoring and other remote sensing missions, Sandia National laboratories has had a 35-year history of providing highly capable systems, densely packaged for unintrusive piggyback missions on government satellites. As monitoring requirements have become more challenging and remote sensing technologies become more sophisticated, packaging greater capability into these systems has become a requirement. Likewise, dwindling budgets are pushing satellite programs toward smaller and smaller platforms, reinforcing the need for smaller, cheaper satellite systems. In the next step of its miniaturization plan, Sandia has begun development of technologies for a highly integrated miniature satellite. The focus of this development is to achieve nanosat or smaller dimensions while maintaining significant capability utilizing semiconductor wafer-level integration and, at the same time promoting affordability through modular generic construction.
Date: November 11, 1999
Creator: Reynolds, D.A.; Kern, J.P. & Schoeneman, J.L.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department