KIRTLAND AIR FORCE BASE, Albuquerque, N.M. - The U.S. Air Force's Operationally Responsive Space Office and the Space Test Program satellites are ready for launch aboard an Orbital Sciences Corp. Minotaur l launch vehicle on November 19, 2013, from NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center's Wallops Flight Facility, Va. The STPSat-3 will launch along with 28 CubeSats as part of the ORS-3 mission.
STPSat-3 will be the second launch of a Department of Defense Space Test Program Standard Interface Vehicle. The SIV spacecraft bus is designed to support up to four independent payloads with a total payload mass of 70 kg using a standardized payload interface. STPSat-3 will demonstrate the flexibility of the SIV design by accommodating five payloads plus a de-orbit module.
STPSat-3 is the second vehicle operated on the Multi-Mission Satellite Operations Center ground system from the Research and Development Test and Evaluation Support Complex also located at Space Development & Test Directorate, Kirtland AFB. MMSOC permits cost savings for missions like STPSat-3 by maximizing re-use of common ground system components. Along with the new STPSat-3 Mission Unique Software, MMSOC will provide a new data distribution capability to automatically make vehicle and payload data available to customers at external locations.
Col. Todd C. Krueger, the Director of the DoD Space Test Program, characterized the SIV program as, "a system that enables affordable access to space for technologies offering significant military utility." He emphasized the efficient use of precious resources by stating, "Our ability to partner with the ORS office is a demonstration of the 'rideshare' concept being advanced across the space enterprise to maximize launch vehicle lift capacity."
The ORS-3 Mission, also known as the Enabler Mission, will demonstrate launch and range improvements to include automated vehicle trajectory targeting, range safety planning, and flight termination; employment of commercial-like procurement with FAA licensing of a Minotaur I; and launch the Air Force's STPSat-3 and 28 CubeSats on an Integrated Payload Stack. These enablers not only focus on the ability to execute a rapid call-up mission, they automate engineering tasks that once took months and reduce those timelines to days and/or hours resulting in decreased mission costs.
The Air Force Space Command's Space and Missile Systems Center, located at Los Angeles Air Force Base, Calif., is the U.S. Air Force's center of acquisition excellence for acquiring and developing military space systems including Global Positioning System, military satellite communications, defense meteorological satellites, space launch and range systems, satellite control network, space based infrared systems and space situational awareness capabilities.
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