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Air Force Research Lab’s Spacecraft Completes MEO Test Mission; Robert Johnston Quoted

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Demonstration and
Demonstration and Science Experiments

An Air Force Research Laboratory-built small spacecraft carrying four experiment suites has completed its mission after almost two years in orbit.

The Demonstration and Science Experiments (DSX) mission aimed to collect data for the Department of Defense to understand the impact of environmental factors in medium-Earth orbit on spacecraft components, AFRL said Monday.

The DSX satellite lifted off June 25, 2019, aboard SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket and entered the passivation stage on May 31, 2021.

Robert Johnston, DSX principal investigator, said scientists and engineers will analyze data from more than 1,300 experiments during the mission as part of efforts to transform military spacecraft design work at the laboratory.

The Wave-Particle Interaction Experiment was the first of the four experiment suites and examined the unique particle behavior crucial for the development of technologies for Radiation Belt Remediation.

The second effort, Space Weather Experiment, studied locations and intensities of different particle types within the Van Allen Belts.

The succeeding experiment suite known as the Space Effects Experiment calculated the degradation of spacecraft components that were commonly used during the mission.

The Adaptive Controls Experiment was the final effort for the mission to determine how to operate large orbiting structures for future flight operations.