Naval Research Lab instruments mount successfully on ISS

WASHINGTON. The U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) reports that the International Space Station (ISS) has successfully installed NRL’s Limb-Imaging Ionospheric and Thermospheric Extreme Ultraviolet (UV) Spectrograph (LITES) and its Global Positioning System (GPS) Radio Occultation and Ultraviolet Photometer Co-located (GROUP-C) research instruments.

The NRL payload was delivered via SpaceX’s FALCON 9 rocket in mid-February and was retrieved by a robotic arm aboard the ISS. After several days' work on installation, payload managers and the Space Test Program successfully performed tests to confirm that the instruments had been installed and were functioning properly. GROUP-C and LITES are mounted on the Department of Defense (DoD) Space Test Program's (STP) STP-H5 platform. The STP Houston branch built and managed the platform, which enables the mounting of  experiments outside the ISS and provides power and communications to those experiments.

According to LITES and GROUP-C officials, if the experiments operate at their full expected duration of two years, both will have a chance to interface with two major upcoming missions: the Ionospheric Connection Explorer (ICON) and the Global-Scale Observations of the Limb and Disk (GOLD), both anticipated to launch during 2017.

The ISS robotic arm grabbed the instruments to initiate installation. Photo credit: International Space Station.

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