TacSat-3 Delayed Again

The Air Force Research Lab is once again pushing ahead the launch of the tactical satellite-3 to resolve an issue with the experimental spacecraft’s avionics. AFRL announced last November that it needed more time to test the satellite’s flight software and resolve an issue with its star tracker, which is the component that allows the satellite to position itself correctly once on orbit. At the time, program officials eyed a launch sometime this month. Now, they say, more time is needed to address an issue with a spacecraft avionics component. “At this point, the launch is on hold, and a new lift off date has not been established,” AFRL spokesman Michael Kleiman, told the Daily Report yesterday. Thom Davis, TacSat-3 program manager, said that, while program officials are disappointed in the delay, “the fix is necessary to assure the on-orbit performance of the satellite.” He added, “Had we not discovered and corrected this problem, we would have had a potential catastrophic mission failure.” (Includes Kirtland report by Michael Kleiman)