NRL Miniature SGLS Transponder Launched on MIGHTYSAT II.1

10/10/2000 - 54-00r
Contact: Public Affairs Office, (202) 767-2541

he Naval Research Laboratory's (NRL's) Naval Center for Space Technology (NCST) announces the successful design, development, qualification, launch and operation of a state-of-the-art Miniature Space Ground Link System (SGLS) Transponder for use on future advanced and miniature spacecraft. The U.S. Air Force's MightySat II.1 satellite became the first spacecraft to launch and utilize the new NRL transponder.

NRL's Miniature SGLS Transponder represents the smallest full-featured, space qualified SGLS transponder ever designed and flown. Weighing only 3.3 lbs. (1.5 kg) with a total volume of 90 in3 (1470 cm3), it represents a 70% reduction in volume and mass over existing systems. The NRL Miniature SGLS Transponder, along with NRL-designed miniature antennas, diplexers, cables, and couplers (<0.5 kg) represent enabling radio frequency (RF) technology for next-generation Department of Defense (DoD) miniature spacecraft.

Following the launch, Mr. Randy Kahn, Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) MightySat Program Manager, extended "tremendous 'congrats'" and personal thanks to the NRL team for producing an excellent Mini-SGLS transponder. "The NRL Mini-SGLS Transponder," says Mr. Kahn, "is one of the big success stories of the MightySat program."

Developed under sponsorship of (AFRL) (, with support from the Clementine 2 microsatellite technology program, the NRL transponder provides a satellite with DoD standard Air Force Satellite Control Network (AFSCN) S-Band secure spacecraft telemetry, tracking, and command (TT&C) services.

The MightySat program is a multi-mission, small satellite technology development program demonstrating high-risk, high-payoff space system technologies with the objective of transitioning them to operational use by the Air Force. The NRL Mini-SGLS Transponder is one of several Experimental Bus Components on MightySat II.1, which are now demonstrating their flight worthiness on-orbit after being subjected to rigorous ground-based qualification/acceptance testing.

The Miniature SGLS Transponder subsystem was conceived and developed at NRL under the direction of Drs. Christopher Lichtenberg, Section Head, and Stewart Nozette, both of the Radio Frequency Active Systems Section. According to Dr. Lichtenberg, "Our NRL Mini-SGLS Transponder subsystem hardware represents major size and mass reductions compared to current DoD standard spacecraft TT&C subsystem hardware. The Mini-SGLS Transponder is ideal for DoD next-generation and/or smaller, higher-performance spacecraft. We developed it precisely because it enables smaller spacecraft, which can be put on orbit for lower cost. It also allows additional size/mass of other payloads on existing platforms."

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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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