Army nanosatellite on first flight

The first U.S. Army nanosatellite lifted off of Launch Pad 40 at Cape Canaveral, Fla., today at 10:43 a.m. Eastern. This is the launch of the first U.S. Army-built satellite in more than 50 years. U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command is the Army lead for the SMDC-ONE nanosatellite program.

The Space and Missile Defense Command - Operational Nanosatellite Effect, or SMDC-ONE, launched on a Falcon 9 two-stage booster, a Space Exploration Technologies, Inc, or SpaceX, launch vehicle as a secondary payload. The primary payload for this flight is the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft.

The primary objective of this maiden flight is to receive data from a ground transmitter and relay that data to a ground station. The intent of this technology demonstration is to build a number of identical satellites and deploy them together into Low Earth Orbit to simulate enhanced tactical communications capability and evaluate nanosat performance.

Approximately 45 minutes after launch, SMDC-ONE deployed from the Falcon 9 trunk unit located in the second stage of the rocket and was placed into a low earth orbit.

After being dormant for 30 minutes, the nanosatellite deployed its receiver antennas. Even though in a tumbling mode, the satellite contacted the ground station at USASMDC/ARSTRAT on Redstone Arsenal, Ala., and provided astate-of-healtha data.

During orbits over the next four days contact with the second ground station in Colorado Springs, Colo., will be made during orbits.

After deployment, it is expected that SMDC-ONE will remain in orbit for approximately 30 days before dropping out of orbit. Because of its small size and weight, SMDC-ONE is expected to be destroyed during reentry in the atmosphere.

Please follow SpaceRef on Twitter and Like us on Facebook.