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Space Hitchhikers: The ESPA Ring

Video Overview
Satellites are devices launched into orbit to collect information or aid in communication. Although they're invaluable tools, they also are enormously expensive to send into space. But using an amazing adaptor called an ESPA ring, engineers at an Air Force research lab in Albuquerque, New Mexico are helping send up more satellites by adding them to existing, larger missions. An ESPA is fitted between a launch vehicle, or the rocket, and the primary satellite and can hold up to six small satellites. Before ESPA existed, space engineers would put ballast weight into the payload attach to get the correct performance out of the rocket. ESPA gives the Air Force a much better use for that weight capacity because a rocket that used to only carry one satellite now can take many. "ESPA satellites are kind of riding as second-class citizens -- hitchhiking, if you will," says mechanical engineer Janice Stuart. "Satellites that couldn't afford to be launched are now getting into orbit, making important research possible."
Overview

Key Terms:

Satellites
Payloads
Launch Vehicle
Ballast Weight

 

Related Links:

http://space.au.af.mil/factsheets/afscn.htm
http://space.au.af.mil/primer/rocket_theory.pdf

More Episodes OF LabTV - Season 2

IQ Leaning Network

Video Library

Education Sponsors

IQ Learning Network
  • Alpha Foundation
  • Daniel Foundation of Alabama
  • Hugh Kaul Foundation
  • Monte L. Moorer Foundation
  • Sybil H. Smith Charitable Trust
Web-Interactive Field Trips
  • Alabama Humanities Foundation
    A state program of the National Endowment for the Humanities
  • Robert Meyer Foundation
  • The Stephens Foundation
  • Wells Fargo Foundation
e-Learning for Educators/ APT Learn Online
  • Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham
  • U.S. Department of Education
STEM Education Initiative
  • Ann & Alfred F. Delchamps, Jr. Charitable Fund
  • BBVA Compass Bank
  • Beverly and Gary Cooper Charitable Fund
  • Community Foundation of South Alabama
  • Corporation for Public Broadcasting
General Educational Support
  • Alabama Department of Human Resources
  • Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Alabama
  • Books-A-Million
  • Honda Manufacturing of Alabama
  • Publix
  • Wells Fargo
PBS Kids Programs
  • Alabama Power
  • Books-A-Million
  • Children's of Alabama
  • Publix
  • US Space & Rocket Center
American Graduate
  • Corporation for Public Broadcasting
Southern Education Desk
  • Corporation for Public Broadcasting