Hummingbird - A Very Low Cost, High Delta V Spacecraft for Solar System Exploration
Based on Microcosm's development of a high delta-V small Earth observation spacecraft called NanoEye, with a planned recurring cost of $2 million, Microcosm will develop a new class of very low cost, light weight, extremely capable spacecraft for NASA science and exploration missions, from Earth orbit to deep space. This new spacecraft, called Hummingbird, is based on an all-composite, unibody structure in which the propellant tank is the structure. The first payload would be the 2.9 kg, 9.25-inch aperture diffraction-limited telescope built by ITT. Space-qualified 1-lbf thrusters from AeroJet weighing 8.7 gm each provide both orbit control and very rapid attitude maneuvers. The current NanoEye spacecraft has over 2.5 km/sec of delta-V, although delta-V can be increased considerably. The wet mass of the spacecraft is about 80 kg in its present configuration. The spacecraft uses CubeSat components, which are evolving rapidly to become more robust and capable. Multiple Hummingbirds can work together as a system and also provide robustness against system failures. Updates with new equipment can be introduced 3 to 10 times quicker than with traditional space systems, allowing responsive mission implementation at a cost and time scale not possible with traditional space missions.
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Richard E. Van Allen
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