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Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer (RXTE): Spacecraft

Mission: RXTE.

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:

  • A 1 Gbit solid state memory, instead of tape recorders, for storing telemetry. An important feature is that this allows a variable telemetry rate.
  • 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.
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.