The Space Technology Research Vehicles (STRV 1A and 1B) were designed with the principal aim of providing the technology community with affordable access to earth orbit to allow an in-orbit evaluation of new technologies. The spacecraft were designed, built, and tested at the UK Defence Research Agency (DRA) at Farnborough (with assistance as required from subcontractors) and were operated (1994-1996) from a ground station facility at DRA Lasham in Southern England. The short duration time scale of the project (from design phase to operations in 3 years) has guaranteed the return of experimental data in a meaningful time frame.
The STRV 1A and 1B satellites were almost entirely experimental, with the majority of the platform systems incorporating new features or techniques. Despite a maximum mass of 55 kg each, a total of fourteen different experiments were incorporated in the design of the two vehicles. The majority of the technologies flown were associated with ongoing research programmes within the Space Deparment of the DRA. These programmes were both intramural and in conjuction with UK industries and universities. In addition, there was a major international collaborative aspect to the project. The Ballistic Missile Defence Organization (BMDO) Materials and Structures Programme sponsored four experiments that were built at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) and were flown aboard the STRV-1B. The BMDO also negotiated antennas to supplement the DRA ground station. The European Space Agency (ESA-ESTEC) also submitted experiments and solar panels for STRV 1A and provided the programme with design effort and radiation facility time. The United States Air Force Phillips Laboratory, Albuquerque, provided solar panels on STRV 1B, together with experimental cells as part of one of the experiments.
The limitation on mass was a consequence of the choice of launch: the Ariane Structure for Auxiliary Payloads (ASAP). Although this structure has now flown several times into low earth, polar orbit, the STRV 1A/1B launch on 17th June 1994 was the first occasion that the Ariane-4 launched auxiliary payloads into Geostationary Transfer Orbit (GTO).
- Mission operations beginning in September 1996
LASP did not provide any instruments for the STRV mission.
Launch date: June 17, 1994
Launch location: Europe’s Spaceport, Kourou, French Guiana
Launch vehicle: Ariane-44LP
Mission target: Earth orbit
Mission duration: 1 year
Other key dates:
- LASP assumed mission operations: September 1996
- End of mission operations: September 1998
Other organizations involved:
- NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL)
- UK Defence Research Agency
- European Space Agency