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Memories of working on UARS

By: Smitski
Now that the UARS dust has settled (figuratively speaking ... thankfully), we thought we’d share one of our colleague’s memories of working on the satellite way back when. I worked on UARS, testing and patching the flight software, while at General Electric/Martin Marietta/Lockheed Martin in Valley Forge, PA. I then transitioned to developing the Integration and Test software system that was used to integrate all of the UARS instruments into the spacecraft bus structure. It was pretty exciting for me, because I was able to see the structure of the satellite as the instrumentation was added. The tubing looked like a high-tech carbon fiber material, not your standard playground pipe. I was told that the bus structure would be exposed to direct sunlight on one side and cold space on the other. The difference in temperature on the material would be hundreds of degrees. The material was engineered to minimize expansion and contraction that could tear the spacecraft apart. There was an instrument (PEM I think) that needed to be positioned far away from the bus to avoid any interference from the spacecraft and yet the platform needed to be mounted on a boom that was rigid to the spacecraft orientation for high accuracy. A contractor built this unbelievable mechanism the size of a round cake box to save space and weight. It was then deployed on orbit, like a twisted Eiffel Tower, to create a 40-foot boom that was so rigid that the instrument on it would whip less than a few millimeters. For a software guy, the materials and structural engineering was amazing!
Posted: 9/27/2011 7:58:28 PM