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Northrop Grumman delivers ESPAStar bus to L3Harris for US Air Force NTS-3 mission.

| 2021

Northrop Grumman announced on July 1 the successful delivery of an ESPAStar-D spacecraft bus from Gilbert, Ariz., to L3Harris in Melbourne, Fla. The platform supports the Navigation Technology Satellite-3 (NTS-3) mission for the Air Force Research Laboratory set to launch from Cape Canaveral in 2022.

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Northrop Grumman delivers ESPAStar bus to L3Harris for US Air Force NTS 3 mission

Northrop Grumman ESPAStar-D spacecraft bus for L3Harris in support of the NTS-3 mission. (Picture source: Northrop Grumman)

Built to provide affordable, rapid access to space, ESPAStar-D can accommodate combinations of hosted and separable experimental payloads on six common and configurable payload ports. The bus utilizes an Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) Secondary Payload Adapter (ESPA) ring as its primary structure, allowing multiple ESPAStars to be stacked together on a single launch vehicle. The platform can support missions in geosynchronous orbit (GEO), low Earth orbit (LEO) and medium Earth orbit (MEO).

“Our unique ESPAStar platform provides proven solutions for customers seeking a modular, cost-effective and highly capable spacecraft bus for hosting technology development and operational payloads,” said Blake Bullock, vice president, National Security Space, Tactical Space Systems, Northrop Grumman. “ESPAStar’s innovative design offers unmatched flexibility for orbit locations and deployment, and we are proud to partner with L3Harris to meet all of our customers’ requirements, including target cost goals supporting the Air Force’s on-orbit deployment schedule.”

The experimental NTS-3 payload is designed to augment space-based position, navigation and timing for warfighters and features a modular design capable of supporting a variety of mission needs.

In addition to the NTS-3 mission, Northrop Grumman is partnering with the U.S. Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center (AFSMC) in their mission to deliver resilient and affordable space capabilities with the production of three ESPAStar platforms for Long Duration Propulsive Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) (LDPE) missions. LDPE-1 is scheduled to launch in 2021 with the Space Test Program 3 mission.

The NTS-3 bus was built in Northrop Grumman’s state-of-the-art satellite manufacturing facility in Gilbert, Ariz. The facility is currently undergoing an expansion to add more than 100,000 square feet of production space, increasing the overall ESPAStar Integration and Test capacity.

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