TESS commissioning nominal and on track for lunar encounter

News article posted on by Joshua Schlieder

TESS commissioning has been nominal. The space craft has undergone several phasing orbit burns and turn on and checkout of key subsystems. Since launch on April 18, TESS has reached many mission milestones that include:

  • Separation from the Falcon 9 second stage, solar array deployment, and first contact with NASA TDRS and the NASA Deep Space Network

  • Star Trackers turned on, Attitude Control System transitioned to Coarse Pointing Inertial, and attitude thrusters tested

  • First Apogee Maneuver successfully completed

  • Star Tracker and Reaction Wheel Assembly calibration completed

  • First Perigee Maneuver successfully completed, Ka-band transmitter turned on, Data Handling Unit computer turned on and first data packets transmitted via DSN

  • Second Apogee Maneuver not performed due to good system performance during first two maneuvers

  • The four cameras were powered on and began collecting data for calibration

  • TESS was placed in Fine Pointing Mode using camera supplied quaternions for first time

  • Second Perigee Maneuver successfully completed

  • Cameras operating nominally and taking data as they cooled to -85 C

  • Third Perigee Maneuver successfully completed sending TESS is on its way to the lunar encounter!

The lunar encounter will occur at 06:34:35 UTC on May 17th and will bring TESS within 8000 km of the lunar surface and use the Moon’s gravity to change the orbital inclination and send the space craft toward its final science orbit. Science operations are anticipated to begin mid-June.