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Air Force Blue Horizons Fellowship Partners with ExoAnalytic to Collect Data on the Artemis I Launch

September 2, 2022

FOOTHILL RANCH, CA – ExoAnalytic Solutions is eagerly anticipating America’s return to the Moon via Artemis.  As part of our support to the Air Force Blue Horizons Fellowship program and their Project Rocket cislunar tracking efforts, we are demonstrating the application of our world-leading space domain awareness services to the Artemis I flight test.  Scheduled for Saturday, this uncrewed mission around the Moon will pave the way for a crewed flight test and future human lunar exploration.   

Since 2020, ExoAnalytic has been demonstrating technologies which can contribute to future situational awareness and mission success in cislunar space.  We have studied the various contributions commercial space- and ground-based sensors can make to extending high quality of service space domain awareness to support cislunar and translunar operations.  This includes performing an architecture study on behalf of the Space Development Agency as well as multiple demonstrations for the United States Space Force (USSF).  As part of collaborative efforts supporting USSF, including our HARRIER and GOLLD Small Business Innovative Research programs and previous tracking demonstrations in support of Project Rocket, Exo has been learning by doing and demonstrating what commercial solutions are available today.   

Our solutions combine digital models and mission planning elements with our data collection infrastructure, which now comprises more than 350 individual telescopes at 35 sites globally and multiple HARRIER locations.  This has led to a unique ability to digitally direct a collection campaign in advance of the Artemis mission and then attempt to execute this campaign when Artemis launches.  Artemis 1 gives us the opportunity to put this capability to the test.  In this way, we may compare our digital operations to our real-world operations.  We have applied these same techniques when observing complex operations in geosynchronous orbit such as the recent successful on-orbit servicing missions MEV-1 and MEV-2 and the launch and deployment of the SBIRS-GEO 6 spacecraft.

We are prepared to observe Artemis as it launches and deploys the Orion spacecraft and multiple rideshare payloads. Our engineers and scientists are beyond excited to learn from the process and the data collected. Following the separation of Orion approximately two hours after launch, the interim cryogenic propulsion stage (ICPS) will deploy ten small satellites which will continue to deep space destinations as Orion continues its translunar trajectory. As NASA describes, during the several days it takes to get to the Moon, “Orion will fly about 60 miles (97 kilometers) above the surface of the Moon at its closest approach, and then use the Moon’s gravitational force to propel Orion into a distant retrograde orbit, traveling about 40,000 miles (64,000 kilometers) past the Moon. This distance is 30,000 miles (48,000 kilometers) farther than the previous record set during Apollo 13 and the farthest in space any spacecraft built for humans has flown. For its return trip to Earth, Orion will get another gravity assist from the Moon as it does a second close flyby, firing engines at precisely the right time to harness the Moon’s gravity and accelerate back toward Earth, setting itself on a trajectory to re-enter our planet’s atmosphere.” 1  Throughout these events, ExoAnalytic will be using its global telescope network to observe all we can of this historic mission.   

Future phases of the Artemis mission will benefit from the same level of dedicated flight safety services which protect the rest of our Nation’s critical infrastructure in space. As we return to the moon sustainably, ExoAnalytic stands ready to support decision making in cislunar space with persistent, dedicated, and timely space domain awareness, data visualization and analytics. Every ExoNaut is looking forward to learning all we can about how we can best support our return to the Moon. Godspeed.


Image credit (top): Artist concept from NASA Orion Spacecraft