Space Technology 5
Artist's rendering of the "string of pearls" satellite constellation
|Operator||NASA / Goddard Space Flight Center|
|Major contractors||UC Los Angeles
Kennedy Space Center
New Mexico State University Physical Science Laboratory
|Launch date||2006-03-22 14:03:45 UTC|
|Launch vehicle||Pegasus XL|
elapsed: 3 months, 8 days
|Power||~20-25 W @ 9-10 V|
|Inclination||105.6° sun synchronous|
|Apoapsis||4500 km |
|Orbital period||137 minutes|
|Orbits per day||~10.5|
|Data rate||1 Kbps / 1 or 100 Kbps|
Space Technology 5 (ST5) of the NASA New Millennium program is a test of ten new technologies aboard a group of microsatellites. Developed by NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, the three small spacecraft were launched separately from the belly of an Lockheed L-1011 aboard the Pegasus XL rocket, on 22 March 2006. One technology involves antennas that were designed by computers using an evolutionary AI system developed at NASA Ames Research Center. The ST5 on-board flight computer, the C&DH (Command & Data Handling) system, is based on a Mongoose-V radiation-hardened microprocessor.
On 30 June 2006 the satellites making up ST5 were shut down after successfully completing their technology validation mission.
Mission objectives 
ST5's objective was to demonstrate and flight qualify several innovative technologies and concepts for application to future space missions.
- Communications Components for Small Spacecraft
- The X-Band Transponder Communications System was provided by AeroAstro. The transponder system is a miniaturized digital communications transponder. It provides coherent uplink-to-downlink operation that provides a ground-to-space command capability, space-to-ground telemetry capability, and a radio frequency tracking capability. The X-Band weighs approximately 1/12 as much and is 1/9 the volume of communications systems now used in other missions.
- Evolved Antenna
- A supercomputer using an artificial evolution algorithm designed a very tiny, highly unlikely looking, but highly promising communication antenna for the ST5 spacecraft. The radiator was designed by NASA Ames and the antenna itself was implemented by the Physical Science Laboratory at New Mexico State University. (As a note, each spacecraft has two X-band antennas: an evolved (the solid black painted unit) and a quadrifilar helix antenna (the two-toned, black and white unit). The quadrifilar helix antennas were also developed at the NMSU Physical Science Laboratory.)
- Lithium-Ion Power System for Small Satellites
- The Low-Voltage Power System uses a low-weight Li-Ion battery with triple junction solar cells that can store up to four times as much energy as their Ni-Cad counterparts. The Li-Ion rechargeable battery has a longer life and does not remember how much it has been discharged prior to recharging.
- Ultra Low-Power Demonstration
- The CULPRiT is a new type of microelectronic device that allows circuits to operate at 0.5 Volts. The technology will greatly reduce power consumption while achieving a radiation tolerance of ~100 kRad total dose and latch-up immunity.
- Variable Emittance Coatings for Thermal Control
- The Variable Emittance Coatings, provided by Sensortex, Inc. and the Applied Physics Laboratory (APL), are used for thermal control and consist of an electrically tunable coating that can change properties, from absorbing heat when cool to reflecting or emitting heat when in the Sun. The Microelectromechanical System (MEMS) chip is part of this technology.
- Propulsion Systems Components
- A miniature microthruster that provides fine attitude adjustments on the spacecraft. The Cold Gas Microthruster (CGMT) is a tiny electromechanical system designed by Marotta Scientific Controls, Inc. to provide fine attitude adjustments on each of the micro-sats. It uses 1/8 the power and weighs only half as much as attitude control systems being used in other missions.
- Miniature magnetometer
- Miniature spinning sun sensor
- Spacecraft deployment mechanism
- Magnetometer deployment boom
- Nutation dampe
See also 
- Speer, D.; Jackson, G.; Raphael, D. (March 2002). Flight Computer Design for the Space Technology 5 (ST-5) Mission. vol. 1. Big Sky, MT: Proceedings of the 2002 IEEE Aerospace Conference. pp. 255–269. doi:10.1109/AERO.2002.1036846. ISBN 0-7803-7231-X.
- Justin Ray (2006). "Mission Status Center Pegasus Launch Report: Space Technology 5". Space Flight Now. Retrieved 2009-04-22.
- Erica Hupp; Lynn Chandler (22 February 2006). Space Technology 5 News Media Kit (.PDF). National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Retrieved 2009-04-22.
- Phil Davis; Kirk Munsell (23 January 2009). "Space Technology 5". Solar System Exploration. NASA. Retrieved 2009-04-22.