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Pathfinder Technology Demonstrator (PTD)

NASA’s Pathfinder Technology Demonstrator (PTD) series of missions will test the operation of a variety of novel CubeSat technologies in low-Earth orbit, providing significant enhancements to the performance of these small and effective spacecraft. Over the course of multiple planned PTD missions, the successful demonstration of new subsystem technologies will increase small spacecraft capabilities enabling direct infusion into a wider range of future science and exploration missions.

Future Mission

Demonstrating Novel CubeSat Technologies in Low-Earth Orbit

Mission Type

Small Spacecraft

Led By

Small Spacecraft Technology Program

Next Launch

PTD-4 in 2024


What is Pathfinder?

The PTD series of missions utilizes a new commercial spacecraft bus and state-of-the-art MK II avionics platform developed by Terran Orbital Corporation, of Irvine, California. The 6-unit (6U) spacecraft, named Trestles, is common to all PTD missions and easily accommodates different technology payloads being demonstrated without the need to completely redesign the spacecraft each time. In addition to providing the spacecraft, Terran Orbital also serves as the integrator for each technology payload into its respective spacecraft and performs in-orbit mission operations from the Terran Orbital mission operations center after each launch.

Learn More about What is Pathfinder?
TBIRD communicating over laser links to Earth
TBIRD downlinking data to Earth from low-Earth orbit
NASA / Dave Ryan