On May 4, 2019, launch vehicle from SpaceX – Falcon 9 lifted NISTEx-II, of the US Navy into space. The instrument was jointly developed by NASA and USNO, as part of a joint project. The launch was a part of the CRS-17 conducted by SpaceX.
On May 6thCRS-17 has docked with ISS. It will remain up there for almost a month as the supplies and the equipment will be unloaded and taken into the ISS, and those are poised to be brought back to earth from ISS. It will be loaded at the ISS.
The NISTEx-II is the first instrument of the USNO to be launched into the space. It is a high-performance tracker designed and developed to trace and study the stars and to grate LSI for producing astrometric results with better accuracy. The instrument was developed by OPC under the partnership program of USNO, STP and PEO-SS.
NISTEx-II, which will be launched from International Space Station, is considered a STP-H6 component, which is dedicated platform to host STP payloads (DoD). This launch will be followed next year by the launch of NISTEx-I, a secondary instrument under the program PEO-SS (USNO). The USAF will be launching it abroad a dedicated satellite.
NISTEx-II is going to play the part as a technology demonstrator, which will increase the precision of detecting stars 100 times. It is also carrying instruments that will provide highly accurate altitude measurements and planetary locations. It will also evaluate the enormity of the stars and enable various astrophysical measurements on larger orbital platforms. All these measurements will be helpful to the USNO to improve its star catalogs. Also it will offer a substitute to the future deep space missions of the European star trackers.
Front side of NISTEx-II has a sun-shade, and also has optical shutter along with interferometric components.