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Air Force Experimental Satellite is referred to as the "largest unmanned structure in space"



The DSX satellite collects data used to study the radiation environment in space.

WASHINGTON – An air force satellite spanning nearly the length of a football field was successfully deployed at the Air Force Research Laboratory on July 12

AFRL's Demonstration and Science Experiments (DSX) will gather data to study the radiation environment used in space. DSX was the largest of the 24 satellites to launch a SpaceX Falcon Heavy missile on June 25 from Cape Canaveral, Florida. The vehicle delivered 24 satellites in four different orbits.

DSX was developed and built by the AFRL Space Agency at Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico.

Col. Eric Felt, Director of the Spacecraft Directorate, said the satellite is conducting new research to "improve understanding of Van Allen radiation belts and their effects on spacecraft components." In a press release, Felt said DSX will conduct on-orbit experiments for at least a year.

"The Air Force is interested in operating satellites in the region where the DSX collects data," said James McCollough, DSX chief investigator. This experiment will help to study the environment, he explained. "This is a region where very low frequency radio waves interact strongly with electrons that are dangerous to spacecraft." DSX can actively send VLF signals to study their influence on the population of electrons, he said. "This will allow for a deeper understanding of a key process that governs the radiation environment."

Lt. Colonel James Caldwell, DSX mission director, said the satellite is currently in "takeoff and early operation," where an operations team is working with scientists and engineers to test different satellite components, deploy the antenna arms, and prepare the data collection in the van Allen-Strahlungsgürtel , On July 1

2, the longer pair of 80-meter antenna outriggers (approximately 262 feet) was successfully used as the largest unmanned structure in space, said Jeffrey Christmas, DSX program manager. He explained that the long antenna allows DSX to send the VLF radio waves used in experiments.

According to Felt, AFRL plans to make the results of research available to the public via its website and its social media platforms.


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