Airbus integrates Nasa’s GOLD hosted payload with SES-14 spacecraft


Airbus Defence and Space has completed the integration of Nasa’s Global-Scale Observations of the Limb and Disk (GOLD) hosted payload with the SES-14 spacecraft by SES.

The GOLD instrument will use an ultraviolet imaging spectrograph to measure densities and temperatures in the Earth’s thermosphere and ionosphere in response to Sun-Earth interaction.

It will help scientists understand the impact of the Earth’s thermosphere and ionosphere on a low-Earth orbit satellite drag, as well as ionospheric disruptions of communication and navigation transmissions.

GOLD will also take images of the temperature and composition changes over a hemisphere.

“SES has extensive experience in hosted payload projects and is well-suited to meet these needs.”

Developed as part of collaboration between several entities, the instrument was built and will be operated by the US’ University of Colorado Boulder Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics.

Nasa’s Goddard Space Flight Centre in Greenbelt, Maryland, US, is providing overall management, while the Florida Space Institute is the principal investigator for the GOLD project.

SES government solutions president and CEO Pete Hoene said: “Using a host satellite makes access to space quicker and more cost-efficient, while meeting the increasingly more sophisticated needs governments have nowadays.

“SES has extensive experience in hosted payload projects and is well-suited to meet these needs.”

Both the SES-14 and GOLD are currently undergoing testing at Airbus Defence and Space site in Toulouse, France.

Scheduled to be launched later this year, the satellite will be deployed by a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, US.

Following its launch, the SES-14 high throughput satellite (HTS) will provide services to the Americas, the Atlantic Ocean, Western Europe, and North-West Africa.


Image: SES-14 integrates Nasa ultraviolet space spectrograph. Photo: courtesy of SES.