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Small Spacecraft and Missions Enterprise (SSME)

The Small Spacecraft and Missions Enterprise (SSME) will embody an open vision for next generation space systems and missions development, and will implement a strategy to facilitate increased efficiencies for agency, mission directorate, national, and commercial space utilization that leverages small spacecraft investments. SSME will focus on identifying the needs of the space community, defining technology emphasis areas, establishing and vetting appropriate standards, and providing critical infrastructure elements necessary to facilitate efficiencies and leveraging within the Small Spacecraft and Missions user and developer communities. Where appropriate, pilot and demonstration projects will be conducted, with an aim of accelerating the acceptance and utilization of small spacecraft systems, technologies, and mission architectures.

The overarching objective of the SSME is to determine the optimal architecture and component configurations for a given mission platform (or combinations of platforms), or small spacecraft mission architecture that will allow for the same capabilities as larger platforms in smaller form factors. Several small spacecraft platforms are envisioned, with an eye toward exploring and defining pathways to conduct 50-80% of target space missions at 20-50% of cost, size, mass, and development.

The SSME will address a broad spectrum of small spacecraft mission requirements and objectives with the pilot projects to mature and evaluate transformational technologies to a level suitable for flight demonstration on multiple platforms. A representative distribution of possible platforms to be considered include:

  • 1 – 5 kg
  • 5 – 50 kg
  • 50 – 200 kg
  • Hosted Payloads
In particular, SSME ‘push’ technology categories include:
  • Spacecraft SubSystems and Components
  • Space Systems and Mission Architectures
  • Autonomous Flight Hardware and Software
  • Launch Vehicles, Adapters, Deployers, and Interfaces
  • Mission Operations and Range Support Technologies
  • Enabling Tools and Capabilities

Examples of potential mission and pilot applications and capabilities that could be pursued include formation flying, long life power systems, precision pointing, deployable apertures, autonomous swarm operations, proximity operations, robotics, space-to-space power transmission, and other technology enablers.

An important element of the SSME strategy will be the conduct of topic specific study sections. A number of working group products are being considered, including:

  • White papers used to address the needs of NASA programs, mission directorates, and the external community to outline and define Design Reference Missions (DRMs) to illustrate potential technology areas and thrusts for small satellites.
  • Workshop to vet the white papers and to solicit input from the satellite space technology base at large, including developers, users, and providers from industry, government, and academia, on technologies that would most greatly benefit their platforms and applications.
  • Database of applicable and appropriate technologies, subsystems, products, and potential vendors, researchers, subject matter experts, and providers
  • Roadmaps for use as guiding documents in the efforts of small spacecraft development.
  • Technology implementation and insertion recommendations for Space Technology and Mission Directorates to inform and augment their strategic and investment roadmaps and other planning vehicles.
  • Pilot Projects to demonstrate utility and feasibility of concepts, technologies, and approaches identified through the above activities, and which serve to motivate the user, provider, and stakeholder communities to utilize and advocate resulting products.

Download the SSME Overview: here