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Newcomb is conceived as a low cost astrometric satellite able to yield 100 micro arcseconds positional accuracy for about 1000 stars. Using a set of three (or four) fixed-angle stellar interferometers, each with a 30 cm baseline, Newcomb's 27 month mission life should produce a POINTS-like lock-up of the coordinate system with as few as 180 stars. The three interferometers are constructed of Ultra Low Expansion (ULE) glass, and are thermally controlled to 0.01 K. Selection of a Sun-synchronous orbit with a fixed Earth profile will help shield the payload from strong thermal excursions. Because the payload is small, several launch possibilities exist including Space Test Program (STP) and NASA. Several design tradeoffs remain and will be briefly discussed.
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