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Signals and Space Technology

SRI’s Signals and Space Technology Laboratory provides innovative engineering and operations solutions for use in the extreme conditions of space and marine environments. Clients include nearly all U.S. defense and intelligence community organizations, as well as civil space organizations and commercial entities.

Our team specializes in space payload and instrument development, systems engineering, flight mission integration and ground facilities for mission support. End-to-end systems use technologies and innovations developed at SRI and elsewhere.

We also provide advanced technology development, signals and image data analysis and technology transition services for government and commercial clients and advise clients about space environments and applications

The laboratory works in four main areas:

  • Satellite launch integration: We are improving access to space through deployment of small satellites known as picosatellites. For several years, we have partnered with California Polytechnic State University and the Naval Postgraduate School for launch integration. Work involves integrating CubeSats (miniaturized satellites) built by universities, government entities and companies into Poly Picosatellite Orbital Deployers (P-PODs); detailed interactions with NASA, Department of Defense clients and launch providers; pre- and post-launch support; and continued maintenance of CubeSat standards.
  • Satellite sources and sensors: Our team designs, develops, integrates and tests space-qualified payloads for CubeSats and larger satellites. We reduce the size, mass and power needs of small satellite subsystems while maintaining the needed robustness for survivability in space. In partnership with SRI’s microscience engineering experts, we integrate micro- and nanotechnologies such as electron and ion sources into small satellite systems.
 ​SRI maintains 3-, 18- and 47-meter dishes to support research and operations that have space-based assets. Facilities include “the Dish” radio antenna facility and Hat Creek Radio Observatory. The dishes transmit and receive radio frequency (RF) signals, measure and analyze data from satellites near earth and in deep space, communicate with CubeSats and larger satellites and perform other activities for government and commercial clients. For more than a decade, we have supported command and control operations for dozens of small satellite missions using these dishes and other SRI-managed satellite communication systems.  
  • Missions: Our team creates innovative concepts enabled by small spacecraft such as CubeSats. We develop and demonstrate systems for space situational awareness, networking technology for coordinated operations, sensor nets enabled by femtosats and orbital clusters of distributed spacecraft.