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By | November 20, 2006

      Air Force TacSat 2 Satellite Launches Dec. 11 From Md.-Va. Spaceport

      The Air Force Research Laboratory TacSat-2 satellite, plus a NASA satellite, will launch Dec. 11 between 7 a.m. and 10 a.m. ET from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport at the NASA Wallops Flight Facility, according to NASA.

      In addition to supporting the TacSat-2 launch, Wallops also will be the launch site for a Minotaur I rocket carrying the Near-Field Infrared Experiment (NFIRE) satellite scheduled in 2007.

      That TacSat-2 satellite will be launched Dec. 11 on an Air Force four-stage Minotaur I space launch vehicle contracted through the Orbital Sciences Corp. [ORB] Launch Systems Group.

      The mission will be conducted from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (a joint venture of the Maryland and Virginia governments) launch pad on the south end of Wallops Island.

      The Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center, Space Development and Test Wing, has overall management of the mission.

      For those wishing to view the launch, the NASA Wallops Flight Facility and the mission partners do not have an official launch viewing area.

      However, Assateague Island, Va., will be open to the public at 6 a.m. on launch day. The southern end of Assateague Island will be closed to vehicles and pedestrians.

      The Minotaur I is a four-stage vehicle, two stages being refurbished Minuteman II stages and the other two stages being OSC stages. The Minotaur is 69 feet tall and 5 feet wide.

      The main payload is the TacSat-2 satellite which will exhibit tenets of responsive space concepts.

      The secondary payload is the GeneSat-1, which was developed by the NASA Ames Research Center. GeneSat-1 is a fully automated, miniature spaceflight system that will provide life support for small living things.

      The mission will look for genetic changes in bacteria (E.Coli) during spaceflight. The E.Coli on board is E.Coli K-12, which cannot live within humans.

      Some types of Escherichia coliform bacteria can cause severe food poisoning in humans. But some types of the bacteria also are commonly present in human and other mammal feces.

      The knowledge obtained from the GeneSat-1 experiment may contribute to safe, long-duration space missions by humans.

      For those not visiting a vantage point near the TacSat-2 launch Dec. 11, but who wish to monitor the launch, they can — prior to the launch — call the Wallops Launch Status Line at (757) 824-2050, which will be updated regularly with information regarding the mission.

      Information also will be available at on the Web.

      For those who will view the launch, the NASA Wallops Flight Facility Radio Station at 760 AM can be relied on for audio updates within five to 10 miles of the NASA Visitor Center.

      As well, local radio stations (103.3 WESR, 99.3 WVES, 99.9 WWFG, and 96.5 WCTG) will provide launch updates.

      “The Wallops Flight Facility has a 61-year heritage of providing fast response launch services to government, academia and commercial organizations. We are very pleased to be able to support this Air Force mission,” said Jay Pittman, chief of the Range and Mission Management Office.

      Space Shuttle Discovery Crew Finishes Pre-Launch Training

      The crew of Space Shuttle Discovery last week wrapped up four days of pre-launch training, ahead of what may be the first nighttime shuttle launch in years, NASA announced.

      STS-116 crew members went through a launch dress rehearsal and simulated countdown with the look and feel of a real launch day, as they prepare for their flight to the International Space Station (ISS).

      After spending most of the week at Kennedy Space Center in Florida, the crew members departed in T-38 jets from the Shuttle Landing Facility for their trip back to Houston. They’ll return to Kennedy just a few days before launch.

      The launch rehearsal is part of the terminal countdown demonstration test, which gives astronauts the opportunity to try on their launch and entry suits, learn emergency procedures at the launch pad, and take part in a variety of familiarization activities and briefings.

      Space Shuttle Discovery is in position at Launch Pad 39B, and the mission’s primary payloads, the P5 integrated truss segment and the SPACEHAB module, have been installed inside the orbiter’s payload bay.

      The launch window opens Dec. 7 for the STS-116 mission to the International Space Station, with the launch tentatively set for 9:38 p.m. ET.

      The crew members are astronauts William A. Oefelein, pilot, and Mark L. Polansky, commander. Also, astronauts Robert L. Curbeam, Joan E. Higginbotham, Nicholas J.M. Patrick, Sunita L. Williams and the European Space Agency’s Christer Fuglesang, all mission specialists.

      Williams will join the ISS Expedition 14 in progress to serve as a flight engineer.

      Boeing, MEASAT, Say Satellite Shipped To Baikonur

      The Boeing Co. [BA] and MEASAT Satellite Systems Sdn Bhd announced they shipped the MEASAT-3 communications satellite to the Baikonur Cosmodrome for launch next month.

      According to the firms, the satellite was shipped from the Boeing Space and Intelligence Systems satellite manufacturing facility in El Segundo, Calif.

      This satellite will be boosted to orbit from the Kazakhstan launch complex on an International Launch Services Proton/Breeze M rocket.

      The Boeing 601 HP satellite was manufactured for MEASAT by Boeing Satellite Systems International and will join the existing MEASAT-1 and MEASAT-2 satellites to expand the MEASAT satellite fleet.

      That fleet provides coverage over the wider Asia-Pacific region to direct-to-home, broadcasting and telecommunications customers. Boeing also has provided upgrades to the MEASAT Teleport and Broadcasting Center located just outside of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

      “The shipment of MEASAT-3 represents another key milestone toward enabling MEASAT to provide services capable of reaching customers in more than 100 countries,” said Stephen T. O’Neill, president of Boeing Satellite Systems International, Inc. “With the addition of the third Boeing-built satellite to MEASAT’s existing fleet, Boeing technology will serve an area that represents two-thirds of the world’s population.”

      MEASAT-3 will be co-located with MEASAT-1 at 91.5 degrees East longitude. It will provide 24 C-band and 24 Ku-band high powered transponders, each providing 36 MHz of bandwidth over a 15-year service life.

      That MEASAT-3 C-band payload will provide service over a region, including Asia, Australia, the Middle East, Eastern Europe and Africa, representing 70 percent of the world’s population. The Ku-band payload has been designed to provide high-powered, flexible service options for development of direct-to-home applications across Malaysia, Indonesia and South Asia.

      Sea Launch Plans Six Missions Next Year, Some On Land

      Sea Launch is planning six missions next year, according to the company.

      This year, the company performed five missions.

      They were launches of EchoStar X Feb. 15, JCSAT-9 April 12, Galaxy 16 June 18, Koreasat 5 Aug. 21, and XM-4 Oct. 30.

      Sea Launch plans for next year include the first land launch mission lifting off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome.

      Compact Kinetic Energy Missile Scores Hit Against Armor Target

      The Compact Kinetic Energy Missile (CKEM) scored a hit on a main battle tank in a test at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., Lockheed Martin Corp. [LMT] announced.

      All objectives for the test were achieved, according to Lockheed.

      In addition to demonstrating CKEM’s capability against an armored target, the test also gathered missile performance and lethality data. This flight was the last of three guided flight tests for this year.

      The remaining flight test planned for this year is designed to demonstrate the CKEM ability to fill current lethality gaps against enhanced reactive armor. CKEM will be particularly effective in bridging the Army’s capability gaps identified for the Infantry Brigade Combat Team and the Stryker Brigade Combat Team by ensuring lethality overmatch at both close and extended ranges.

      Boeing Snares $674.1 Million Contract For EELV Launch Operations

      The Air Force gave The Boeing Co. [BA] a $674.1 million cost-plus-award fee contract for Delta IV launch capability for the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle rocket program.

      Boeing will provide launch and range operations for Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla.

      The company also will provide mission integration; mission unique development and integration; system engineering and program management; subcontractor support; factory support engineering; and special studies.

      Work will be complete next September.

      Boeing Launches GPS Satellite For Air Force; On-Orbit SBIRS Solid

      The Boeing Co. [BA] announced its Delta II launch vehicle delivered to orbit a replenishment Block IIR Global Positioning System (GPS) satellite for the Air Force.

      The Delta II rocket carrying the GPS IIR-16 (M) satellite lifted off from Space Launch Complex 17A at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., at 2:12 p.m. ET Friday, deploying the satellite to a transfer orbit 68 minutes later.

      Separately, the Air Force successfully completed initial early on-orbit checkout of the first Space Based Infrared System payload.

      SBIRS will deliver a new generation of space-based satellites providing missile warning, missile defense, technical intelligence and battlespace awareness to combatant commanders.

      The initial ground phase of SBIRS, called Increment 1, became operational in 2001, using a new consolidated ground architecture that processes data from current on-orbit Defense Support Program satellites. The payload, operating in a highly elliptical orbit, or HEO, is the first component of the Increment 2 constellation, ultimately including two HEO payloads and multiple satellites in geosynchronous earth orbit.

      The SBIRS team, composed of personnel from the Air Force as well as Lockheed Martin Corp. [LMT], the prime contractor, and Northrop Grumman Corp. [NOC], the payload developer, confirmed the deployment, checkout and testing of the HEO payload.

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