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MEPSI

MEPSI 1A & Picosat launcher assembly (PLA) & MEPSI 1B [USAF]

The MEPSI series (Micro Electro-Mechanical Systems-based PicoSat Inspector) consts of pairs of tethered picosatellites, similar to the CubeSat design, to develop and demonstrate the capability of deploying an onboard miniature autonomous inspector, tasked to conduct visual inspection of the host satellite.

After two precursor missions were flown in February 2000 (Pico 21 and 23) and September 2001 (Pico 20 and 22), the larger MEPSI series was developed.

The first pair of MEPSI satellites was launched by a custom deployer aboard the STS-113 Endeavour mission on the 2 December 2002. The spacecraft were manufactured for DARPA by The Aerospace Corporation in collaboration with the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The two spacecraft are cubic in shape, weight 1 kg each, and are connected via a 15.2 m tether in order to facilitate detection and tracking via ground-based radar. The spacecraft carried a cold gas propulsion system, with 0.1 N thrust with 5 thrusters. This propulsion system includes MEMS pressure transducers and was supplied by Vacco Industries under a US $152k contract.

A second pair was launched aboaurd Discovery F33 (STS 116).

The third and fourth pairs, to be launched in 2006 by Space Shuttle mission STS-121 and onboard of the STPSat 1 satellite were cancelled, as these launch opportunities did not provide enough time to implement the changes in the aftermath of the STS-116 mission. STPSat-1 nevertheless carried the deployer, albeit with inert dummy masses.

Nation: USA
Type / Application: Experimental
Operator: DARPA
Contractors: Aerospace Corp.
Equipment: Tether
Configuration: Box
Propulsion: 5 × 0.1 N cold gas thrusters
Power: Batteries
Lifetime:
Mass: 1.5 kg
Orbit:
Satellite COSPAR Date LS Launch Vehicle Remarks
MEPSI 1A 2002-052B 23.11.2002 CC LC-39A Shuttle with Endeavour F19 (STS 113), ITS-P1, MEPSI 1B
MEPSI 1B 2002-052B 23.11.2002 CC LC-39A Shuttle with Endeavour F19 (STS 113), ITS-P1, MEPSI 1A
MEPSI 2A 2006-055B 10.12.2006 CC LC-39B Shuttle with Discovery F33 (STS 116), ITS-P5, MAA, FCal, MEPSI 2B, RAFT1, MARScom
MEPSI 2B 2006-055B 10.12.2006 CC LC-39B Shuttle with Discovery F33 (STS 116), ITS-P5, MAA, FCal, MEPSI 2A, RAFT1, MARScom
MEPSI 3A - ? CC LC-39 Shuttle with ?
MEPSI 3B - ? CC LC-39 Shuttle with ?
MEPSI 4A - CC SLC-41 Atlas-5(401) with ASTRO, NEXTSat/CSC, STPSat 1, CFESat, MidSTAR 1, FalconSat 3, MEPSI 4B
MEPSI 4B - CC SLC-41 Atlas-5(401) with ASTRO, NEXTSat/CSC, STPSat 1, CFESat, MidSTAR 1, FalconSat 3, MEPSI 4A

References: