ATLANTA, GA, April 19, 2017 – The first RED-Data2 spacecraft of Atlanta-based Terminal Velocity Aerospace (TVA) have been successfully launched to the International Space Station (ISS) to begin an approximately 100-day mission in space. The three small spacecraft lifted off yesterday from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station aboard the Cygnus cargo vessel S.S. John Glenn, and will dock with the ISS on April 22nd. The RED-Data2 research mission to study the performance of advanced heat shields is expected to begin after approximately 100 days in space, during the reentry and disposal phase of Cygnus’ mission.
“We are very proud of this milestone achievement for our company,” said Dr. John Olds, Terminal Velocity’s Chief Executive Officer. “To my knowledge, we are the first private company from the state of Georgia to ever launch a commercially designed and built small spacecraft into space. That’s quite an accomplishment for a relatively young NewSpace company, but we have a great team. We are anxiously looking forward to the next phase of our first RED-Data2 mission this summer when the reentry science data is returned to our customers. Looking ahead, TVA already has even more exciting new reentry and sample return capabilities on our drawing boards.”
TVA’s RED-Data2 units are designed to record critical onboard engineering data from spacecraft reentering the atmosphere. The first three RED-Data2 flight units are configured to evaluate the performance of different heat shield materials and thermal protection systems that may be used on future U.S. space missions. The RED-Data2 units are carrying instrumentation and embedded thermocouples to record heat shield performance at high temperatures following their separation from the Cygnus cargo vessel.
After transmitting the recorded data, the three small capsules will be disposed into the Pacific Ocean to end their mission. Each RED-Data 2 unit is approximately 23 cm at its maximum diameter and has a mass of approximately 2.4 kg. They were packed in protective aluminum housings for the trip to the ISS. During their reentry mission, the aluminum housings will separate and allow the RED-Data 2 capsules inside to experience several minutes of free flight.
The launch took place at 11:11 AM EDT on April 18th from SLC-41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station near NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Several TVA managers and technical staff that supported the design and testing of the RED-Data2 spacecraft were on hand to witness the launch. A Cygnus cargo vessel christened the S.S. John Glenn in honor of the late U.S. astronaut and Senator was boosted into low Earth orbit by an Atlas V 401 rocket.
“TVA is grateful to our friends at United Launch Alliance and Orbital-ATK for providing us with a safe and professional ride to the ISS,” said Dr. John Dec, TVA’s Program Manager. “In addition, we are very appreciative of the support from our research sponsors at NASA Johnson Space Center, NASA Ames Research Center, and NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate who have helped make this mission a reality. A mission like this is a team effort that requires the talents of many individuals, and we’ve been blessed to have a great team of engineers support this project.”
Terminal Velocity Aerospace, LLC (TVA) is a private company dedicated to improving reentry safety and furthering the utilization of outer space. TVA offers small devices for data collection during reentry, and for safe return of small payloads from space. Applications include improving our understanding of spacecraft atmospheric entry and breakup, flight test of high-temperature materials, low-cost recovery from space to facilitate high-frequency space-based research, and small scientific probes for exploration of other planets. TVA is a wholly owned subsidiary of Atlanta-based SpaceWorks Enterprises, Inc.
Contact: Dr. John Dec
Terminal Velocity Aerospace, LLC (TVA)
1050 Crown Pointe Pkwy, Suite 1400
Atlanta, GA 30338 USA