The Ball Aerospace-built TEMPO payload being lowered onto the IS-40e spacecraft.

On Nov. 17, Maxar’s Space Program Delivery team integrated NASA’s Tropospheric Emissions: Monitoring of Pollution (TEMPO) payload with its host spacecraft, an Intelsat geostationary communications satellite.

TEMPO, a collaborative effort between NASA and the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, will monitor and track air pollution across North America on an hourly basis. Rather than build a dedicated spacecraft to host the Ball Aerospace-built payload, NASA in 2019 partnered with Maxar to host it on Intelsat 40e (IS-40e), which will provide Intelsat’s government and enterprise customers across North and Central America with high-throughput communications services. From a vantage point 22,236 miles above North America, TEMPO will make complete, hourly east-to-west scans of the continent – from Mexico to northern Canada, and from the Atlantic to the Pacific. TEMPO can also be configured to dwell on a region of interest: during a major fire or volcano eruption, for example.

“NASA’s contributions to understanding and monitoring Earth’s environment go back more than 60 years, and as a member of the National Climate Task Force, the agency is in a position to inform critical climate policy decisions,” said Chris Johnson, Maxar’s SVP of Space. “The TEMPO mission will provide data to inform those decisions, and it will deliver near-real-time air quality products to improve air quality forecasting. Maxar is excited to build and integrate the spacecraft that will enable these observations for many years to come.”

By hosting government payloads on commercial satellites, Maxar can help government agencies access space without the cost of building a dedicated spacecraft. Similarly, the hosted payload helps the commercial customer share the cost of the satellite bus, launch and operations. TEMPO is a demanding payload on its host satellite, but Maxar’s 1300-class spacecraft can support optical instruments with fine pointing, low-jitter and high-fidelity sensor data as either a hosted sensor or a dedicated mission.

The fully integrated IS-40e spacecraft will soon begin environmental testing in Maxar’s Palo Alto, Calif., facilities, to ensure that it can withstand the rigors of launch and the harsh operating environment of space. Maxar is on track to ship the spacecraft to Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Fla., in October 2022 for a late 2022 launch aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.

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