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Spartan 207


Designation 23871 / 96032B
Launch date 19 May 1996
Country of origin United States
Mission Inflatable Antenna Experiment
Perigee/Apogee 280/290 km
Inclination 39°
Period 90.1 min
Launch vehicle STS 77

The IAE is an inflatable antenna 14 meters in diameter which is mounted on three 28m struts. The struts are attached to the Spartan spacecraft, which were deployed and then recovered by the Shuttle. Once in low-Earth orbit, the Spartan became a platform for the antenna which, once inflated in space, was roughly the size of a tennis court. An optical system surveyed the antenna and measured the accuracy of the surface at a variety of internal pressures and thermal conditions. The antenna was developed by L'Garde Inc., of Tustin, CA, a small aerospace business, and NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) of Pasadena, CA, under NASA's In-Space Technology Experiments Program., or IN-STEP.

The IAE experiment is meant to lay the groundwork for future technology development in inflatable space structures, which will be launched and then inflated like a balloon on-orbit. SP207/IAE will validate the deployment (inflation) and performance of a large inflatable antenna during a ninety-minute mission before jettisoning the antenna structure and recovering the Spartan spacecraft at mission end. The inflation process will be captured by the crew on the nearby Shuttle, using a variety of still cameras, a motion picture camera, and video cameras. The on-orbit performance of the antenna (surface accuracy) will be determined by illuminating the antenna surface with light panels mounted on the Spartan and capturing the resulting patterns on video recorders onboard the Spartan. These will be analyzed after the Spartan is returned to Earth by the Space Shuttle.

IAE was ejected from Spartan once the experiment has completed (just the Spartan carrier with the experiment recorders was returned to the cargo bay). This is the same carrier as for Spartan 201-2

End of life

Out of service May 1996
Cause Retrieved by NASA (IAE burned up into atmosphere on 22 May)

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