|GeneSat - 1||
1.) What is significance of this satellite (GeneSat) to NASA?
NASA/ARC hopes to demonstrate the utility of small, inexpensive secondary payloads as part of the NASA Exploration initiative. Due to their small size, secondary satellites missions have the advantage of being able to fly as an "add-on" to a previously planned launch campaign. This feature will also allow NASA to fly multiple versions of these satellites as new technologies and data become available.
Above: Reporter Karina Rusk of KGO-TV, channel 7, ABC, San Francisco, interviews John Hines of Ames who is the project manager for GeneSat.
2.) Has it (GeneSat) ever been flown before? And will it be retrieved or will it burn up in space or just float around as space debris?
This is the first flight of the GeneSat satellite. Another version, called GeneBox, which consists of only the payload and data communications systems from GeneSat, was launched in July of this year inside the Bigelow Aerospace Genesis module as a proof of concept test. GeneBox is still operating on orbit inside Genesis and provided key data which validated many of the GeneSat-1 systems.
3.) What is the cost of the satellite?
The entire cost of the project over it's 2.5 year life is ~$8M. This includes the GeneBox test flight, and the necessary infrastructure needed to launch and operate GeneSat.
4.) What will be the satellite's orbital altitude? At what altitude will the satellite be released from the Minotaur I rocket?
GeneSat-1 will be released and placed in an orbital altitude of approximately 450 km following the deployment of the TacSat-2 primary payload.
5.) What is NASA hoping to learn from the E-coli experiment on board. Some people have asked about the potential danger having E-coli in space. Are there any risks involved here?
There are no risks to the general public or environment from the bacteria inside GeneSat. This particular strain has been modified such that it cannot grow in the human intestine. In addition, the EPA assessed in 1997 that this strain does not pose a threat to the environment. And finally, there is only a total of about 3 ml of bacteria inside the GeneSat payload.
By monitoring the expression of certain genes - some of which are analogous to key genes in humans - as they are activated (or suppressed) by the space flight environment (microgravity, radiation), NASA hopes to further understand the effects of space on living organisms at the most basic level. It is further hoped that this understanding will result in countermeasures and other human support systems.
6.) How long will the (GeneSat) satellite be in orbit, and when do you expect to begin getting results of the experiment? If the satellite is not to be
retrieved, how will scientists monitor the experiment results?
The satellite will reenter and burn up in the atmosphere within one year. Due to its small size and orbit, there is no chance that any parts of the satellite will reach the ground.
GeneSat Project Manager, NASA Ames
NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, CA