NRL Revamping Control Module for NASA Space Station

6/1/1997 - 7-97r
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A spacecraft previously designed and flown by the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) on a Titan IV rocket has been selected by NASA to serve as the back-up Interim Control Module (ICM) for the International Space Station (ISS).

ICM will be mated with the ISS via the Shuttle, and will reboost the ISS to higher orbits and provide attitude and guidance control for the positioning of the spacecraft. ICM may also provide a refueling capability that could extend ISS operations for up to 3 years. Using this spacecraft in combination with Clementine- and NASA-derived hardware designs, NRL will be able to meet NASA's tight schedule for providing a means to control the ISS during its critical "build-up" stage and keep this major U.S. space program "on track."

ICM, which was originally designed by NRL's Naval Center for Space Technology (NCST) in the 1980's to launch on NASA's Space Shuttle, was first named the Shuttle Launch Dispenser (SLD). It was developed for and funded by the National Reconnaissance Office.

The SLD program had passed its Phase Two Safety Review at the time of the Challenger accident in 1986. Subsequently, all Department of Defense missions were directed to launch on expendable launchers. The SLD had to launch on the then-new Titan IV, which necessitated that certain modifications be made. At that time, the instrument was renamed the Titan Launch Dispenser (TLD). The first TLD was launched from the Eastern Test Range and therefore, the system has gone through all the field processing and safety reviews required to load its 12,000 lbs of bi-propellant fuel and oxidizer.

The TLD program ended in 1996. All residual hardware was retained by NRL for future potential use. Modifications are now required to change the TLD into the ICM needed for the ISS. TLD was spin-stabilized and ICM requires three-axis stabilization.

Propellant management devices will be added inside the propellant tanks and the attitude control electronics will be changed to a three-axis design. NRL had previously developed the three-axis Clementine spacecraft and many of those designs and components will be used on ICM. Clementine also used a 110-lb thrust main engine, which will replace the 900-lb engine used on TLD. The Command and Data Handling will be changed to make it ISS compatible and will include communications via tracking and data relay satellite systems.

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The U.S. Naval Research Laboratory provides the advanced scientific capabilities required to bolster our country's position of global naval leadership. The Laboratory, with a total complement of approximately 2,500 personnel, is located in southwest Washington, D.C., with other major sites at the Stennis Space Center, Miss., and Monterey, Calif. NRL has served the Navy and the nation for over 90 years and continues to advance research further than you can imagine. For more information, visit the NRL website or join the conversation on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.

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