News

$2.5 Million Good News for USU Space Dynamics Lab

USURF
June 24, 2006

Logan, Utah— Congressman Rob Bishop (Rep-Utah) was instrumental in passing a bill through the House of Representatives that will provide $2.5 million to Utah State University’s Space Dynamics Laboratory (SDL) to begin development of small satellite equipment.

“This funding will allow SDL to start developing innovative low-cost satellites that will further aid the Department of Defense and provide the Nation with a new capability,” said Mike Pavich, director of SDL.

Small satellites could be an important asset to the Department of Defense. They cost less and have the capability to be more responsive than large satellites. If a situation arose that needed to be monitored, such as a natural disaster or military activity, small satellites equipped with sensors could be launched quickly to provide critical real-time data.

“The United States military and intelligence agencies have a need for this type of tactical and affordable satellite,” said Pavich. “We appreciate Rob Bishop’s efforts in convincing Congress to take the steps to develop this capability.”

With the funds, SDL will begin the process of developing low-cost spacecraft components and integrating them into imaging satellites. The effort will also focus on reducing the mass of components to decrease cost and weight while maintaining high imaging capability. Current systems typically cost $50-75 million per spacecraft, while target production costs of these small satellites would be approximately $2-5 million.

“The ultimate goal is to have a low-cost small satellite readily available for call-up when the United States Government needs them, whether for the military, homeland security or other agencies,” said Pavich.

This funding comes at a critical time for SDL. The Lab faces a reduction in personnel as a result of cuts in NASA science funding and spending cuts in the Department of Defense.

“This funding could not have come at a better time,” said Pavich. “It will help mitigate the number of employees let go over the next year, and we are decidedly grateful to Rob Bishop for his role in this project.”

SDL has over five decades of experience in developing innovative solutions for complex science and military sensing needs. USU and SDL have been on the forefront in small satellite development for over twenty years.