The Coast Guard in 2018, with the help of other government partners, is planning to launch its first ever satellites, which will be used to demonstrate the use of the platforms for search and rescue mission in the Arctic region.
One of the Coast Guard’s partners, the Science and Technology branch of the Department of Homeland Security, is taking advantage of “rideshare opportunities” for launching the two 10-centimeter cubesats in the third quarter of 2018, a service spokesman told Defense Daily on Monday.
The Polar Scout program is one step toward a larger goal of the Coast Guard to develop a long-term plan for using satellite technology across a larger mission set. The Coast Guard’s Research and Development Center is working across the service to examine how satellite systems can help in various missions as well as researching what more capabilities cubesats offer.
“Our final product will be a cubesat roadmap, where we will make recommendations for how the Coast Guard can use the technology and explain the operations, maintenance and logistical issues involved,” Lt. Cmdr. Samuel Nassar, assistant branch chief for C4ISR at the RDC, said in a statement on Dec. 14.
Millennium Engineering and Integration is preparing the satellites with help from Space Dynamics Laboratory, a non-profit unit of Utah State Univ., and Raytheon [RTN].
The Coast Guard wants to demonstrate the cubesat technology to potentially augment satellites operated by the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration that detect emergency positions indicating radio beacons (EPIRBs) from vessels operating in the Arctic while the agency undertakes an effort to replace the satellites. The Coast Guard said each of its two satellites will pass over the North Pole every 90 to 100 minutes and will be able to detect EPIRB signals from vessels for about 12 minutes on each orbit, amounting to more than three hours of coverage in the Arctic each day.
The RDC has built a ground control station in Fairbanks, Alaska, and plans to build one at its academy in New London, Conn., to provide command and control of the cubesats and their payloads.
The Air Force Operationally Responsive Space Office is also partnering with the Coast Guard on the cubesat demonstration.