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DSX Satellite Mission Wraps Up

Orbital experiments

DSX Satellite Mission Wraps Up

The mission of an Air Force Research Laboratory spacecraft in medium-Earth orbit has come to an end.

AFRL said the Demonstration and Science Experiments mission lasted for 706 days and concluded on May 30, outliving its originally planned lifespan by nearly a year.

Mark Scherbarth, chief engineer for DSX’s integrated experiments and evaluation division, said the project faced financial and technical problems, the most challenging of which was getting the spacecraft to MEO.

“We saw DSX from cradle to grave, and we persevered throughout many difficulties and changes in directorate and division leadership – each leader stood behind it,” Scherbarth added.

AFRL conducted more than 1,300 experiments, according to Michael Starks, head of DSX’s radiation belt remediation effort. Starks joined the project in 2005.

Robert Johnston, the DSX team’s lead science investigator, said the satellite was designed to serve as a platform for science experiments as well as technology development and demonstration.

The satellite is about the size of a football field and hosted four suites of experiments focused on determining how MEO’s environmental factors impact spacecraft and its controls, according to Air Force Materiel Command.

The first suite, called the Wave-Particle Interaction Experiment, was aimed at examining the particle behavior needed to develop technologies for radiation belt remediation.

The second suite, called the Space Weather Experiment, was focused on studying the locations and intensities of different particle types in the Van Allen Belts.

The third suite, called the Space Effects Experiment, studied the degradation of the components used for the mission. 

The final suite, named the Adaptive Controls Experiment, was aimed at informing the future development of large orbiting structures.

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Category: Space

Tags: AFMC AFRL Air Force Materiel Command Air Force Research Laboratory DSX Mark Scherbarth Medium Earth Orbit MEO Robert Johnston