Congress may get its wish for more operationally responsive space capabilities with the tactical satellite 3 (TacSat-3) spacecraft. TacSat-3 will meet responsive space needs by quickly fielding a new capability and will serve as a laboratory for responsive space and concepts of operations, said Thom Davis, TacSat-3 program manager. The $50 million, three-payload satellite is the first in a series of small satellites scheduled to go through a selection process based on combatant commander needs. The three payloads include systems to aid (1) target detection and identification and combat damage assessment; (2) communication of data from sea-based buoys; and (3) validation of a plug-and-play avionics capability, employing reprogrammable components. Air Force Research Lab’s Space Vehicles Directorate at Kirtland AFB, N.M., is slated in early 2007 to receive all three payloads to begin an integration process that officials expect to take less than 60 days, vice they typical several months. The launch vehicle is an Orbital Sciences Minotaur 1, slated to take off from Wallops Island, Va., in October 2007.
Boeing’s receipt of the 10th lot contract award for the KC-46 Pegasus this week leaves just three lots left to complete the Air Force’s buy of the tanker, although a further buy of 75 additional aircraft as a “bridge” to the Next-Generation Aerial-refueling System (NGAS) seems increasingly likely.