Lockheed Martin is building satellites to predict weather from space
Lockheed Martin is building satellites to predict weather from space
13:45

Lockheed Martin is building satellites to predict weather from space

Science
Speaker 1: I'm here at Lockheed Martin's space headquarters. One of the world's most high tech spacecraft manufacturing facilities. I'm here to see how they design build and torture test satellites. They do it down here on earth so they can survive our there. Speaker 1: [00:00:30] If you're anything like me, you wake up in the morning, you pick up your, and you check your weather app to see if you're gonna get rain, or if you're gonna be surrounded by wildfire smoke like I am right now, we kind of assume that that information comes down to us like magic, but it doesn't. It comes from weather satellites and over the hill from where I'm standing right now is where they're building some of the world's most advanced [00:01:00] weather satellites, full of tracking extreme weather events, like wildfires and even tornadoes more accurately and faster than ever before. Here in Denver, Colorado, Lockheed Martin has built some of the most advanced spacecraft to ever explore our solar system from the Mars insight Lander to Juno, the orbiter exploring Jupiter. But right now it's building something that'll fly a little closer to home. The goes tea [00:01:30] satellite. So we're getting Speaker 2: 30 times the data down on this satellite, as they did on the previous satellite, we're doing space weather, sun, weather, earth weather Speaker 1: Go stands for geo state missionary, operational environmental satellites. The ghost tea is the third in a family of four of these satellites designed to stay in geosynchronous orbit a bit over 22,000 miles above Earth's surface. They orbit in time with Earth's rotation. So they stay fixed [00:02:00] above north and south America, 24 hours a day. And that means they can track weather in precise detail mapping lightning strikes, following fire lines and tracking extreme weather events. In real time. When the ghost tee launches in 2022, it will be a game changer bringing in more data in less time, it'll be able to track CATA of weather events in hours, not days. And that could mean the difference between life and [00:02:30] death. When it comes to building a satellite production starts small, really small here in Lockheed space electronics center engineers build the complex electronics and surf boards that power the satellite. We build Speaker 3: Circuit cards, modules, and boxes. That'll go into satellites. We focus on power avionics, which is gonna be the life and the brains of a satellite. When I get to watch a launch, I know I've had a hand in it. [00:03:00] It's a real proud moment for me. Speaker 1: These kinds of components used to be sold entirely by hand. Now a lot of that process has been automated with high tech machines that print out circuit boards and lay down components with pinpoint a C. The whole goal is to minimize errors. After all these electronics, aren't just going in a phone or a laptop they're mission critical in space. You [00:03:30] can't send something to the repair shop. If it stops working, Speaker 3: It's a lot better for proficiency and efficiency. We get the same results every time where hand Tering, it would take a lot longer. What we can do in an hour. It would take a week or two to try and hand sold, Speaker 1: To make sure they can survive in space. These components go through rigorous testing engineers recreate the pressures of takeoff with a dedicated vibration machine that shakes the components. Then they're tested to see if can survive [00:04:00] in orbit. So this is the TAC testing area. Now each of these units behind me is what's known as a thermal vacuum chamber. Essentially, these units are used to pressure test the components that go inside the satellites. I'll show you inside one. So the components go on this bed here. They seal that massive door and create AVAC inside to emulate space. Then they cycle through hot and cold temperatures to make sure that those components can actually survive the extreme temperatures of space. [00:04:30] Of course, once all of that is done. It's time to assemble those components into a satellite. And that happens in the cleaner room. I'm so gonna do this Speaker 4: Wrong. Speaker 1: This is the goes U which is the next generation. After the one we're here to see this place is massive, and this is it it's way, way, way bigger than I thought it would [00:05:00] be. Feels very sci-fi to see all these faceless people in their suits. These engineers are putting the final touches on ghost tea ahead of its launch. In a few months time, they're taking laser guided measurements of the satellite to measure the exact placement of every component. And in some cases, those different elements get adjust by as little as 1000th of an inch. Speaker 2: Well, it actually starts out as a bunch of piece parts, right? And the piece parts are assembled into boxes. [00:05:30] And then the boxes come, what they call subsystems. So just like your house has an air conditioner, a heater structure. This satellite has the same thing. It has a power system. It has a thermal system. It has a guidance and navigation control system. And all that gets put together here. The parts come from different vendors, but they come from all over the us. So it really is complex. And then once we get it, here we go through a whole series of tests to simulate what, what it sees in space and what it sees upon [00:06:00] launch. Speaker 1: One thing I'm sure you've already noticed is the satellite is covered with a lot of reflective tin foil. This isn't just there to protect it during assembly. It helps the goes, keep an even temperature in space. The silver thermal reflectors does designed to reflect the sun's radiation keeping components. Cool. While the black blankets absorb heat on the dark side of the satellite that faces away from the sun, because the goes is designed to stay in geostationary [00:06:30] orbit, managing its position in relation to the sun is a balancing act, especially when it comes to wow. So this massive solar panel right here is actually five solar panels deep, and they all fold out once the satellite is in space and that is what's powering the entire satellite. So underneath here, under this red cover, there is a sun sensor that can actually detect the brightness of the sun and work out the satellite's position in real to the sun. The idea is then that [00:07:00] the solar panels can rotate all the way around while the satellite still faces it down on the ground. You can see the size of the build, but to get a good look at all the instruments you need to get up high, Speaker 1: The go is packed with instruments to help it conduct science and communicate in space. There's the advanced baseline imager, which takes images of the clouds atmosphere and surface of earth. There's the [00:07:30] geostationary lightning mapper that maps lightning all over the world, but ghost tea, doesn't just track weather here on earth. It has the excess extreme ultraviolet and x-ray I radiant sensors and a solar ultraviolet imager or soy, which captures images of the sun. These instruments can help track solar eruptions and space weather, which affects us here on earth, impacting everything from navigation systems down to the power grid. In fact, all [00:08:00] the data captured by the ghost. Satellites has a real impact on earth when it joins the other ghost satellites in orbit, ghost tea will not only track forest fires. It'll also be able to track their intensity and help predict where they're going next. It'll help monitor and predict lightning strikes, and it will track the path of storms before they've even made landfall in weather emergencies like hurricane Ida, which recently battered the Gulf coast, that data can be life saving. [00:08:30] So Speaker 2: Like for Ida, for example, you know, it was a category two and they knew based on the thermal picture of the Gulf, that it was gonna rapidly intensify into a category four, once it hit that golf leather. And so we were within, I believe like two hours of predicting of when it would hit land mass and within just a few miles of where we said it was gonna predict 60 hours out, which is unheard of Speaker 1: The go satellites in orbit, also help broadcast emergency weather warnings. And [00:09:00] they have another huge role in ensuring safety here on earth, gathering data for search and rescue. In Speaker 2: 2020, there was four to 500 people that were rescued based on the search and rescue technology. That's on the Goza are spacecraft, which is awesome. So it's really impactful to work on a satellite that is so meaningful in saving people's lives and helping people be Speaker 1: Safe before the goes. Tea is sent down to Cape Canaveral in Florida for launch Lockheed runs tests on the whole satellite, just like they did with the [00:09:30] components inside. They push it to thermal extremes in a huge vacuum chamber. They run it through vibration tests and even blast it with electromagnetic waves. We Speaker 2: Go through a whole series of tests to simulate what, what it sees in space and what it sees upon launch. So we turn everything on, make sure it's not, you know how you get static on your radio. You don't want that coming across in the spacecraft, right? So we have to make sure everything works in concert Speaker 1: Right now that testing happens all over the Lockheed campus with a satellite, getting [00:10:00] packed up and moved each time. But in the future, the company won't have to spend days moving its spacecraft it'll happen all in one place. Speaker 1: This is the gateway center, Lockheed Martin's brand new massive spacecraft building facility. While the rest of space headquarters is sprawled across the red rocks in buildings that go back decades. This 350 million [00:10:30] state ofthe art building is designed to be a one stop shop for assembling and testing, cutting edge spacecraft. It normally takes Lockheeds two days to pack up their spacecraft and haul them between buildings for testing here, it'll take just one hour. A lot of the testing and building that goes on in here is related to national security. In fact, because I'm not a us citizen, I can't even get inside, but one thing's for sure the space [00:11:00] is massive. So big. In fact, you can fit a space shuttle inside with room to spare. Speaker 5: This is the place where all of the parts of the spacecraft come together. The center is designed to take any kind of a spacecraft, whether it's a communication spacecraft, a military spacecraft, whether deep space, um, even our navigation satellites, any type of satellite, any size of satellite can be accommodated here in this center Speaker 1: At the heart of the gateway center is a massive high bay where the assembly takes place. [00:11:30] Then the spacecraft can easily be wheeled down to different testing rooms, including a giant thermal vacuum chamber. This huge space is like the small vacuum seal chambers we saw earlier in our visit, but instead of just testing individual parts, it can do thermal testing on an entire spacecraft. Speaker 6: It allows a spacecraft to be able to simulate and see space. You can run from temperatures as low as minus 180 C all the way up to [00:12:00] plus 150 C. So you simulate what the sun is like on that spacecraft from one side, and you can simulate what it looks like deep space from another simultaneously Speaker 1: Down the whole there's a giant AIC chamber. The largest Lockheed has ever built inside here. Engineers can test the communications equipment on the satellites without any noise or radio interference and Speaker 6: AIC means no echo. And what you probably notice while you're in [00:12:30] here is everything's sounds different. It's quieter. It's not only is a quieter from what you're hearing, but is quieter from all of the various RF energy as well. So you'll also notice while you're in here that you're not gonna get any cell phone signal. You don't get any wifi. There's still on the floor. There's still on the walls. It's completely quiet. Everything's blocked out. Speaker 1: Lockheed says, this is the F future of satellite building, advanced production, high tech testing, all in one place. Now that [00:13:00] it's open this gateway center makes Lockheed's Denver campus. One of the biggest spacecraft and satellite building facilities in the world right now, there are thousands of satellites orbiting our planet, watching the weather and helping us prepare for natural disasters, helping us stay connected, sending top secret messages that we don't even know about and all that high tech machinery in space starts its life here on earth, tiny circuit boards, advanced scientific [00:13:30] instruments, all assembled by the world's top scientists and engineer in facilities. Just like this one space might be up there, but we're helping to build it right here on earth.

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