Since launching Tetra-1 on November 1, 2022, Millennium Space Systems, a Boeing (NYSE: BA) company partnered with the U.S. Space Force’s Space Systems Command (SSC), successfully deployed the vehicle from its host, initialized all components and subsystems and performed systems check out. Tetra-1 is healthy and ready for mission operations.
SSC is now assuming full spacecraft operations, using the procedures developed jointly with Millennium Space Systems.
Millennium Space Systems delivered the spacecraft and ground software to SSC to operate independently, and provided a different type of training, simulation and confidence-building for operators to understand the nuances of a smallsat. This training experience, new tools and space-qualified spacecraft components support Millennium Space Systems’ ability to deliver smallsats for high-stakes critical missions for National Security Space.
“We developed new operations tools to ease the planning for actions like station changes and planning and executing on-orbit maneuvering. This is particularly important for super GEO, where if you’re not mission capable, you’re considered in the graveyard.” (Super GEO is new ground for smallsats, with known and unknown challenges operating so far away – about 38,000 km from Earth.) When Guardians work on Tetra-1, they’ll learn new ways of doing things that were previously done on much larger satellites. Because Tetra-1 is smaller, more agile and maneuverable, you have different options. It’s like the difference between maneuvering a speed boat versus a cruise ship. The experience Tetra-1 provides is critical to space operators understanding how to manage a small satellite. An example is operating during eclipse season. Actions for what you want the satellite to do are taken more deliberately because it has a smaller power system. And operators must manage consumables differently compared to a larger satellite, all of which requires training beyond just having classroom knowledge – it takes hands-on experience. — Mike Todaro, vice president of Mission Operations & Integration at Millennium Space Systems
“Tetra-1 has helped us learn about small satellites’ potential to operate in super GEO. Due to Tetra-1’s maneuverability, it has enabled us to experiment and train with various tactics, techniques, and procedures. Thus, allowing our program office and operators to identify what roles small satellites can potentially play in future USSF Missions. Furthermore, Tetra-1’s robustness permitted SSC to work with Space Delta 11 in Space Training and Readiness Command and perform maneuvers dedicated solely to a live on orbit training campaign, known as ‘Scarlet Star.’” — Captain JeanCarlo Vasquez, Tetra-1 deputy program manager at SSC