Successful Launch for AFRL Eagle Spacecraft Experiment on AFSPC-11 mission

Atlas V launches Orbital ATK-designed satellites for the U.S. Air Force. (Credit: ULA)

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio (88th Air Base Wing PR) – The Air Force Research Laboratory’s EAGLE spacecraft flight experiment was successfully launched on board a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral, Florida, April 14.

EAGLE, short for Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) Secondary Payload Adapter (ESPA) Augmented Geosynchronous Experiment, is part of a multi-mission spacecraft launch on AFSPC-11.  ESPA is an AFRL innovative technology that increases the number of satellites that can be put into space on a single launch. Much like a train can just add extra cars to transport more cargo, one or more ESPA rings can be added under the primary payload to launch more satellites.

“With EAGLE, AFRL takes space vehicle design concepts to the next level by adding communication and propulsion capabilities creating, in effect, a host satellite with detachable satellites or experiments,” said Maj. Gen. William T. Cooley, Air Force Research Laboratory commander.

“EAGLE and Mycroft, an AFRL developed small fly-away satellite on the EAGLE spacecraft, demonstrate reduced cost delivery of satellites to orbit, improved situational awareness for space vehicles, and an innovative approach for the space industry. The successful EAGLE launch is cutting-edge quality research taking place at AFRL and by world-class scientists, engineers and support staff dedicated to the defense of our nation,” Cooley said.

The EAGLE program is led by the AFRL Space Vehicles Directorate located at Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico, with key team members from the Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center headquartered at Los Angeles AFB, California. Industry partners include Orbital ATK of Dulles, Virginia; ATA-Aerospace, of Albuquerque, New Mexico; and Tempe, Arizona based Moog-Broadreach Engineering.

The one-year, on-orbit experiment, flown in partnership with the DOD Space Test Program, enlists numerous military, civilian, and contractor scientists and engineers to analyze the data. The EAGLE program will transition technology and knowledge of future space capabilities in support of Air Force Space Command Space Warfighting Construct.