By U.S. Air Force NewsDecember 20, 2006
12/19/2006 - WALLOPS ISLAND, Va. (AFPN) -- Successfully launched onboard a Minotaur I rocket, the TacSat-2 spacecraft has commenced operations on a planned six to 12-month experimental mission Dec. 16 from the NASA's Wallops Island Flight Facility near Wallops Island, Va.
Within minutes after leaving the launch pad, the micro satellite, managed by the Air Force Research Laboratory's Space Vehicles Directorate at Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M., entered into a circular orbit at a 40-degree inclination approximately 255 miles above the Earth.
"At this early point in the flight, all of the spacecraft's components are functioning properly, and the system is performing like clockwork," said Neal Peck, a TacSat-2 program manager. "The project team is excited about the positive start to a milestone mission for the future of rapid, responsive space operations."
Featuring 11 instrument packages, the TacSat-2 mission will include experiments directly supporting the warfighter on the ground. Two trials, in particular, the 20-inch telescope constructed by the Space Vehicles Directorate and the Common Data Link tactical radio, will make a significant impact on deployed forces.
The former will demonstrate low-cost, high-quality photography, and the latter will provide communication and image transmissions to a Navy facility at China Lake, Calif. Additional planned trials involve the integrated global positioning system occultation receiver, which will compute high-precision location information for the spacecraft, recycled solar array panels producing 500 watts of power, and autonomous operations.
TacSat-2 represents a partnership between AFRL, NASA, the Department of Defense's Space Test Program (Space and Missile Systems Center's Space Development and Test Wing), the Naval Research Laboratory, the Army Space Program Office, Air Force Space Command and the Space Warfare Center.