Planning Ahead

Cadets at the Air Force Academy are formulating their initial concepts for FalconSAT-6, the next in the series of experimental small-sized satellites that are designed, built, and operated by cadets. The academy held a symposium recently for representatives across the space community to solicit ideas on potential payloads, technologies, and mission concepts for FalconSAT-6, which, if ultimately approved and funded at levels of between $5 million and $10 million, may have a launch opportunity in 2011 or 2012. Work in the FalconSAT-6 will commence in the fall. Meanwhile, efforts continue at the academy to complete FalconSAT-5 for a December launch from Kodiak Island, Alaska, aboard a Minotaur rocket. That satellite will carry experiments to monitor space weather phenomena. FalconSAT-3, launched in March 2007, is still operating and collecting data on space weather and satellite operations. Plans for FalconSAT-4 were scrubbed. (Air Force Academy report by John Van Winkle)