Experimental Satellite Set for Launch

The Air Force is poised for Tuesday’s launch of the Space Test Program Satellite-3 into orbit from Wallops Island, Va. A Minotaur I rocket will carry STPSat-3 aloft from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility, states a Nov. 13 release from Kirtland AFB, N.M. The Minotaur will also deploy 28 mini experimental satellites known as CubeSats for on-orbit technological demonstrations. This launch is the Air Force’s Operationally Responsive Space-3 mission. It will offer the Air Force the opportunity to demonstrate “the agility and affordability” of commercial-like launch processes and “to validate new concepts for launch resiliency for the future,” Col. William Gillespie, the Space and Missile Systems Center’s launch director, told reporters during a Nov. 14 teleconference. Among STPSat-3’s payloads are a de-orbit module to demonstrate a lightweight, low-cost de-orbit device and a laser illumination sensor. Ball Aerospace built STPSat-3, which has a design life of 13 months, but might be able to operate on orbit for several years, states the release. (Includes Kirtland report by 1st Lt. Michael Clark)