NEWS | May 31, 2010

HICO-RAIDS Team Honored with Rotary National Award for Space Achievement

By Donna McKinney

Naval Research Laboratory researchers who built and designed the HICO™-RAIDS Experiment Payload (HREP), have been honored with the Rotary National Award for Space Achievement Stellar Team Award. HREP launched on September 10, 2009 aboard the inaugural flight of the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) H-II Transfer Vehicle unmanned resupply ship under the auspices of the DoD Space Test Program. Dr. Davidson Chen led NRL's HREP team.

The nonprofit Rotary National Award for Space Achievement Foundation was established by the Space Center Rotary Club of Houston in 1985 to recognize outstanding achievements in space and create greater public awareness of the benefits of space exploration. David Hess, Director, DoD Human Spaceflight Payloads, DoD Space Test Program (STP), and Perry Ballard, Chief Engineer for the DoD Human Spaceflight Payloads Office in Houston, accepted the award on behalf of the HICO™-RAIDS team April 30, 2010.

HREP was the first U.S. pathfinder launched aboard the Japanese HII-B rocket, as well as the first to be both deployed and operated from the Japanese Experiment Module - External Facility (JEM-EF) on the International Space Station (ISS). Following docking to the ISS, robotic payload installation, and initial testing, HREP entered the normal science operations phase of its unique mission on October 19, 2009.

HREP provides all attitude knowledge, command and control, data handling, and structural support to the successful, NRL-led Hyperspectral Imager for the Coastal Ocean (HICO™, part of the ONR Innovative Naval Prototype (INP) Program, with NRL's Dr. Michael Corson as the principal investigator) and Remote Atmospheric and Ionospheric Detection System (RAIDS with NRL's Dr. Scott Budzien as the principal investigator) hyperspectral sensors. The DoD STP Team, the NASA International Space Station Program, and the Office of Naval Research (ONR) jointly coordinated the international effort that ultimately produced the first major Earth observing experiment conducted outside of ISS confines.

Led by Dr. Perry Ballard, Chief Engineer for the DoD Human Spaceflight Payloads Office in Houston, the international HREP team included the Department of State, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, JAXA, NRL, the Aerospace Corporation, ONR, and the DoD STP. The communication, coordination, and cooperation of this international integration effort required incredible focus and dedication.

As a result of this extensive endeavor, the HREP team accomplished many firsts, including the first Maritime Hyperspectral Imager in Space, first U.S. payload launched on a JAXA HII-B launch vehicle/HII-B Transfer Vehicle (HTV), first U.S. experiment use of JEM-EF, and first major Earth observing payload deployed outside the ISS. The accomplishments of the HREP team demonstrate the significant technical expertise, engineering proficiency, and cultural insight necessary for an exceptionally complex and successful integration. The intense hard work and dedication produced innovation and an enduring scientific impact - the very first Maritime Hyperspectral Imager from space and the most comprehensive survey of the ionosphere and thermosphere in over 20 years.