Page 22

Frontiers March 2013 Issue

“THE ELECTRONICS ARE GETTING MORE ADVANCED, SO YOU CAN DO MORE THINGS WITH THE PAYLOADS NOW IN HALF THE SPACE IT USED TO TAKE.” – Jeff Riglin, senior mechanical technician it’s handed over to the customer. It takes a roomful of engineers and an ample supply of M&Ms, the candy that’s traditionally on hand for every launch. Franz Kerekes, mission systems engineer at the Mission Control Center, said the goal is to have an uneventful launch and place-ment into orbit. But the team learns more when an issue arises. “The most interesting time is when there’s an issue and you have to try to figure out what happened,” he said. “There’s a sense of purpose and passion from that, and you get to see some really smart people shine.” In a nearby building, other engineering teams have piqued customer interest with two new satellite designs—the 702MP (medium power) and the all-electric 702SP (small platform). These satellites are part of an aggressive effort by Space and Intelligence Systems to expand its commercial satellite business. “What we’ve been able to do is bring a smaller, less expensive satellite to the mar-ket,” said Michael Langmack, a mechanical design engineer, adding that Boeing is able to take advantage of smaller, innovative technology in the new designs. For example, the all-electric 702SP uses only electric thrusters, meaning it takes more time to place into orbit than one with fuel-powered thrusters, but customers are willing to wait in exchange for the cost savings that result from the absence of fuel, which adds weight and mass to the spacecraft. The Space and Intelligence Systems market strategy also includes offering cus-tomers hosted payloads, in which a second payload is added to a commercial satellite. Buying space on an existing satellite is an economical choice for government and business users because they can get into service faster and at less cost. And a hosted payload means additional revenue for the commercial satellite owner. Space and Intelligence Systems first built hosted pay-loads 20 years ago, but reintroducing them at a time when government budgets are shrinking has helped attract new orders. Related technology also is progressing 30 miles (50 kilometers) north of El Segundo at Spectrolab, a wholly owned Boeing sub-sidiary overseen by Space and Intelligence Systems and based in Sylmar, Calif. For the past 57 years, it has improved solar cell efficiencies, delivering more than 3.5 million gallium-arsenide solar cells. Mark Gillanders, a Spectrolab program manager, said the amount of solar power converted by the cells into electricity has improved from 12 percent to an industry-leading 30 per-cent or more since the 1970s. In Spectrolab’s recently expanded facility, photovoltaic solar cells are grown on ger-manium wafers under exacting conditions, similar to the traditional process for making semiconductors. After the wafers are turned into individual solar cells, they are affixed and wired onto solar panels, which comprise the large wings that power satellites. Between making cells to meet Boeing’s increasing satellite orders and introducing cutting-edge PHOTOS: (Right) From the Mission Control Center in El Segundo, Calif., engineers Franz Kerekes (clockwise from left), David Choi, Stacia Long, Galen Stevens, Hiral Desai and Robert Whitehill can monitor a satellite’s position in space. (Insets, from left) Mission engineers Shen Qu, foreground, and Doug Chin check telemetry data from a satellite; Greenwich Mean Time clocks keep teams in sync as they execute time-critical actions on the spacecraft. BOB FERGUSON/BOEING GRAPHIC: (Top right) Artist’s concept of the all-electric, 702 small-platform satellite. JOHN RANKIN/BOEING 22 BOEING FRONTIERS / MARCH 2013


Frontiers March 2013 Issue
To see the actual publication please follow the link above