Press Release

NASA’s GeneSat-1 Reaches Orbit on Air Force Rocket

By SpaceRef Editor
December 16, 2006
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NASA’s GeneSat-1 Reaches Orbit on Air Force Rocket

View Launch Video

NASA’s GeneSat-1 rode an Air Force rocket into Earth orbit on Dec. 16, 2006 at 4 a.m. PST (7 a.m. EST) from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility, Wallops Island, Va. The satellite’s locator beacon has been detected, and data has been received as GeneSat-1 orbits Earth, according to scientists.

GeneSat-1 is a 10-pound satellite carrying bacteria inside a miniature laboratory to study how the microbes may respond in spaceflight. GeneSat-1 was a secondary payload on an Air Force four-stage Minotaur 1 rocket that also delivered the Air Force TacSat 2 satellite to orbit.

“It’s wonderful to hear that GeneSat-1 is orbiting Earth, and I extend my congratulations the whole GeneSat-1 team, including NASA people, industry partners and university students,” said S. Pete Worden, director of NASA’s Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif. GeneSat-1 was designed and built at Ames, and the mission will be managed from the center. “This success shows that a lot can be done with small satellites made with modest budgets,” Worden added.

The Small Satellite Office at NASA’s Ames teamed up with industry and local universities to develop the fully automated, miniature GeneSat spaceflight system that provides life support for small living things.

“During this mission, we are exposing bacteria to the space environment to see how they are affected,” said John Hines, GeneSat-1 project manager at NASA Ames. GeneSat-1’s onboard micro-laboratory includes sensors and optical systems that can detect proteins that are the products of specific genetic activity. The GeneSat-1 ground control station at NASA Ames will receive data radioed from the micro-laboratory after it has completed its observations and tests of the bacteria inside.

The biological test will last only 96 hours, but the GeneSat-1 team will evaluate the stability of the orbiting payload’s systems for four months to a year.

“GeneSat is the first of many small spacecraft and missions being developed and managed in the NASA Ames Small Spacecraft Office, which has been established to specifically demonstrate the capability to rapidly develop and deploy small, low-cost spacecraft missions and flight systems,” Hines observed.

For the most current launch information, please telephone Keith Koehler, public affairs, at Wallops Flight Facility: 757-824-1579, or visit:

To view the launch via webcast, please visit:

For more information about GeneSat-1, please visit:

Publication-size images are available at:


Note: Reporters may telephone GeneSat-1 project manager John Hines at 650-604-5538, or send e-mail to his address,

SpaceRef staff editor.