BAE Systems-Built CloudSat Satellite Ends Operations After 17 Years of Service in Orbit

BAE Systems-Built CloudSat Satellite Ends Operations After 17 Years of Service in Orbit

The BAE Systems-built CloudSat satellite has officially ended operations after more than 17 years on orbit. CloudSat launched in April 2006 as part of a NASA-led mission to develop global cloud profiles to better understand how water and ice content determine cloud properties, the processes behind precipitation, and how clouds impact the climate. It has since served as a valuable tool for the scientific community to validate and advance weather forecast modeling and predictive capabilities, and it has helped inform hundreds of peer-reviewed scientific papers.

BAE Systems designed and built the spacecraft bus for the mission. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory developed the Cloud Profiling Radar that served as CloudSat's sole instrument. The satellite launched jointly and flew in formation with the Cloud-Aerosol LIDAR (light detection and ranging) and Infrared Pathfinder Satellite Observation (CALIPSO) satellite, which utilizes BAE Systems-built LIDAR and wide-field camera instruments to further study climate impacts of clouds and aerosols in the atmosphere. The CALIPSO mission formally ended on August 1, 2023.

CloudSat was originally planned for a 22-month mission lifetime, but it was able to continue providing measurements for nearly 18 years in large part due to operational support efforts from the BAE Systems team, which modified spacecraft operations to deal with battery and reaction wheel failures that occurred over the years.

"The deorbiting of CloudSat brings an end to a long and valuable mission that helped the scientific community develop a more robust understanding of clouds and how they interact with the rest of our environment," said Don Speranzini, vice president and general manager of Ground Systems and Services for BAE Systems Space & Mission Systems. "The fact that the satellite was able to provide meaningful data so long after its original design life is a testament to both our team's craftsmanship and operational innovations that kept the mission running as long as possible."

CloudSat officially ended scientific operations in December 2023. In the months following, the satellite went through the passivation process — depleting its remaining energy and adjusting its solar arrays so it can no longer be activated — and was progressively lowered to disposal orbit where it will eventually burn up safely in the Earth's atmosphere.

Click here to learn more about NASA's CloudSat Mission.

Publisher: SatNow
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GNSS Constellations - A list of all GNSS satellites by constellations


Satellite NameOrbit Date
BeiDou-3 G4Geostationary Orbit (GEO)17 May, 2023
BeiDou-3 G2Geostationary Orbit (GEO)09 Mar, 2020
Compass-IGSO7Inclined Geosynchronous Orbit (IGSO)09 Feb, 2020
BeiDou-3 M19Medium Earth Orbit (MEO)16 Dec, 2019
BeiDou-3 M20Medium Earth Orbit (MEO)16 Dec, 2019
BeiDou-3 M21Medium Earth Orbit (MEO)23 Nov, 2019
BeiDou-3 M22Medium Earth Orbit (MEO)23 Nov, 2019
BeiDou-3 I3Inclined Geosynchronous Orbit (IGSO)04 Nov, 2019
BeiDou-3 M23Medium Earth Orbit (MEO)22 Sep, 2019
BeiDou-3 M24Medium Earth Orbit (MEO)22 Sep, 2019


Satellite NameOrbit Date
GSAT0223MEO - Near-Circular05 Dec, 2021
GSAT0224MEO - Near-Circular05 Dec, 2021
GSAT0219MEO - Near-Circular25 Jul, 2018
GSAT0220MEO - Near-Circular25 Jul, 2018
GSAT0221MEO - Near-Circular25 Jul, 2018
GSAT0222MEO - Near-Circular25 Jul, 2018
GSAT0215MEO - Near-Circular12 Dec, 2017
GSAT0216MEO - Near-Circular12 Dec, 2017
GSAT0217MEO - Near-Circular12 Dec, 2017
GSAT0218MEO - Near-Circular12 Dec, 2017


Satellite NameOrbit Date
Kosmos 2569--07 Aug, 2023
Kosmos 2564--28 Nov, 2022
Kosmos 2559--10 Oct, 2022
Kosmos 2557--07 Jul, 2022
Kosmos 2547--25 Oct, 2020
Kosmos 2545--16 Mar, 2020
Kosmos 2544--11 Dec, 2019
Kosmos 2534--27 May, 2019
Kosmos 2529--03 Nov, 2018
Kosmos 2527--16 Jun, 2018


Satellite NameOrbit Date
Navstar 82Medium Earth Orbit19 Jan, 2023
Navstar 81Medium Earth Orbit17 Jun, 2021
Navstar 78Medium Earth Orbit22 Aug, 2019
Navstar 77Medium Earth Orbit23 Dec, 2018
Navstar 76Medium Earth Orbit05 Feb, 2016
Navstar 75Medium Earth Orbit31 Oct, 2015
Navstar 74Medium Earth Orbit15 Jul, 2015
Navstar 73Medium Earth Orbit25 Mar, 2015
Navstar 72Medium Earth Orbit29 Oct, 2014
Navstar 71Medium Earth Orbit02 Aug, 2014


Satellite NameOrbit Date
NVS-01Geostationary Orbit (GEO)29 May, 2023
IRNSS-1IInclined Geosynchronous Orbit (IGSO)12 Apr, 2018
IRNSS-1HSub Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (Sub-GTO)31 Aug, 2017
IRNSS-1GGeostationary Orbit (GEO)28 Apr, 2016
IRNSS-1FGeostationary Orbit (GEO)10 Mar, 2016
IRNSS-1EGeosynchronous Orbit (IGSO)20 Jan, 2016
IRNSS-1DInclined Geosynchronous Orbit (IGSO)28 Mar, 2015
IRNSS-1CGeostationary Orbit (GEO)16 Oct, 2014
IRNSS-1BInclined Geosynchronous Orbit (IGSO)04 Apr, 2014
IRNSS-1AInclined Geosynchronous Orbit (IGSO)01 Jul, 2013