Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer (RXTE): Spacecraft
The RXTE spacecraft, developed by GSFC's Engineering Directorate
(Code 700), contains an impressive number of innovations compared to
the Explorer Platform that was originally going to serve the RXTE
mission. Among them:
The spacecraft was launched by Delta rocket on December 30, 1995,
into a circular orbit
with a altitude of 600 km and an inclination of 23 degrees.
- A 1 Gbit solid state memory, instead of tape recorders, for storing
telemetry. An important feature is that this allows a variable
- A communication system that includes two high gain antennae,
allowing an almost continuous telemetry stream using TDRSS's
Multiple Access mode.
- CCSDS packet-based communications.
- Two modern CCD star trackers that allow simultaneous tracking of up
to five stars per star tracker.
- A high-powered Spacecraft Data System requiring far less work
to be done by the Flight Operations Team.