The company succeeded in reaching Earth orbit for the first time with its Rocket 3 booster on Friday evening. The small-satellite booster put a mass simulator into orbit after liftoff from the Pacific Spaceport Complex — Alaska on Kodiak Island.
The demonstration launch was sponsored by the U.S. Air Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center as part of the Space Test Program’s Rapid Agile Launch Initiative (RALI). The initiative aims to demonstrate commercially available solutions for placing U.S. Space Force payloads into orbit on a flexible schedule.
The two-stage Rocket 3 is 11.6 meters (38 ft) tall with the capability of placing 25-150 kg (55-331 lb) into a 500 km (310 mile) sun–synchronous orbit.
Rocket 3 had failed in three previous attempts from the Alaskan spaceport. The first failed shortly after liftoff, the second reached space but lacked sufficient velocity to enter orbit, and the third took off sideways after one of its first stage engines failed a second after liftoff. The booster continued to fly but was destroyed by the range safety officer after it flew outside of its assigned airspace.
ARLINGTON, Va. (U.S. Space Force PR) — The U.S. Space Force and Japan’s Office of National Space Policy signed an historic Memorandum of Understanding this week to launch two U.S. payloads on Japan’s Quasi Zenith Satellite System.
The Department of the Air Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center is developing the payloads, which feature Space Domain Awareness optical sensors and will launch from Japan’s Tanegashima Space Center in 2023 and 2024, respectively. Enhancing Space Domain Awareness is essential to protect the space operations of the U.S, Japan, and other partners. A secure, stable, and accessible space domain is critical to our national security, the health of our respective economies, and enables scientific endeavors which provide environmental benefits.
Secretary of the Air Force Barbara Barrett hailed the agreement.
EL SEGUNDO, Calif., Aug. 3, 2020 (ABL Space Systems PR) — ABL Space Systems has begun stage testing of the RS1 small satellite launch vehicle, and has been awarded two US DoD contracts and secured a large round of funding with a combined value of over $90 million. ABL’s awards and funding are key to the rapid development of the RS1 launch vehicle and GS0 deployable launch system, with a demonstration launch slated for Q1 of 2021.
ABL’s DoD contracts, awarded by the Air Force Research Laboratory and AFWERX, with participation from the Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center, total $44.5 million over three years. Additionally, ABL has secured $49 million of financing led by Ethan Batraski at Venrock with participation from New Science Ventures, Lynett Capital, and Lockheed Martin Ventures. The recent round closed on March 31st, and fully funds ABL through a three launch demonstration campaign in 2021.
In an effort to support its industrial based during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC) has announced its intention to award 12 small satellite rideshare launches to six companies.
LOS ANGELES AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. (SMC PR) — On March 26, the U.S. Space Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center’s GPS Next Generation Operational Control System (OCX) program instructed Raytheon to replace the computer hardware in OCX prior to system delivery due to sale of IBM’s computer product line to a Chinese company.
The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States approved the IBM x86 product line sale to a foreign owned company, Lenovo on Aug. 2014. The agreement ensures IBM supported their hardware until August 2022. At the time of the sale, the Government identified this as a major impact to OCX by creating an unacceptable cyber risk. However, the Government waited on implementing a fix until Raytheon showed promising program performance in delivering OCX.
LOS ANGELES AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. (USAF PR) — The U.S. Space Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center and its mission partners successfully deployed Aerospace’s Rogue Alpha and Rogue Beta CubeSats from the Northrop Grumman Cygnus capsule at 1 p.m. and 4:10 p.m. respectively, Jan. 31, 2020.
This marks the beginning of the program’s mission experiment plan, where the two satellites will use their short-wave infrared sensors to create a baseline for processing cloud backgrounds and inform future low Earth orbit satellites. The Air Force will also utilize this program’s unclassified data to investigate potential uses of the capability.
LOS ANGELES AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. (USAF SMC PR) — The United States Space Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC) and its mission partner, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), successfully deployed the Department of Defense (DoD) Space Test Program Satellite-4 (STPSat‑4) from the International Space Station at 11:20 p.m., Jan. 28, 2020.
The challenge: Build and launch a pair of cube satellites on a tight budget and even tighter timeline.
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. (Aerospace Corporation PR) — In mid-2018, The Aerospace Corporation engineers and scientists received a unique mission from the United States Air Force. Their challenge: Build and launch a pair of cube satellites on a tight budget and even tighter timeline of just 18 months.
In a world where the threats facing orbiting satellites proliferate with each passing year, the ability to field an agile response and quickly restore lost functionality is a critical, but still developing, capability.
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. (USAF PR) — The U.S. Air Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center Launch Enterprise team has won the 2019 David Packard Excellence in Acquisition Award.
The Packard Award recognizes Department of Defense organizations for innovation and best acquisition practices. SMC’s Launch Enterprise team crafted an acquisition strategy of innovative public-private investments in launch vehicle development, resulting in the continuous delivery of acquisition performance with both affordability and speed.
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. (SMSC PR) — The U.S. Air Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center and its mission partners successfully delivered the Aerospace Rogue Alpha/Beta CubeSats and Space Test Program Satellite-4 (STPSat-4) to the International Space Station.
The mission, designated NG-12, started with the on-time launch of an upgraded Northrop Grumman Innovation Systems Antares 230+ rocket from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport’s Pad 0A Nov. 2 at 9:59 a.m. EDT from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.
LOS ANGELES AIR FORCE BASE – EL SEGUNDO, Calif. (USAF PR) — The U.S. Air Force’s Space and Missile System Center released a Request for Information (RFI) today to learn more about industry’s innovative developments in launch, on-orbit maneuverability, and commodity transport architectures for on-orbit servicing. SMC will use this information to assess if and how it can leverage such capabilities to satisfy National Security Space operational requirements in contested space environments.
“SMC strives to deliver an integrated open space architecture, able to rapidly on-board Allied, commercial & mission partner capabilities and advanced technologies at the speed required to outpace the threat, that enables multi-domain coalition architectures,” said Col. Russell Teehan, SMC’s Portfolio Architect, who leads this study.
LOS ANGELES AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. — The Next Generation OPIR Geosynchronous Earth Orbiting (GEO) satellite program, commonly referred to as NGG, achieved another major milestone in 2019 by completing its system/ground and space vehicle preliminary design review (PDR) Sept. 27, 2019.
Next Generation OPIR will provide a capable, resilient, and defensible space-based global missile warning capability against emerging threats.
LOS ANGELES (DOD PR) — United Launch Services, Centennial, Colorado, has been awarded a $98,549,235 firm-fixed-price contract for Atlas V Completion launch services.
This contract provides launch service completion for three National Security Space Launch Atlas V missions (two Air Force and one National Reconnaissance Office) previously ordered under contract FA8811-13-C-0003.
Work will be performed at Centennial, Colorado; Decatur, Alabama; and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, and is expected to be completed by Nov. 30, 2020. This award is the result of a sole source acquisition.
Fiscal 2019 and 2020 procurement funds are being obligated at the time of award. The Space and Missile Systems Center, Los Angeles Air Force Base, California, is the contracting activity.
LOS ANGELES AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. (SMC PR) –– The Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC), in partnership with the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), awarded a sole source, five-year, $1.18 billion Firm-Fixed-Price (FFP) modification of the Delta IV Heavy contract (FA8811-19-C-0002), saving $455 million.
This modification was awarded Sept. 27 to United Launch Alliance (ULA) for Launch Operations Support (LOPS), in support of five NRO Launch (NROL) missions: NROL-44, NROL-82, NROL-91, NROL-68 and NROL-70.
WASHINGTON (DOD PR) — The U.S. Air Force has awarded The Aerospace Corporation of El Segundo, Calif., a $1,084,529,525 modification to a previously awarded contract for systems engineering and integration support for the national space community.
This contract modification provides for the exercise of option year one for fiscal 2020 services being procured under the multiple year contract. Work will be performed at El Segundo, and it is expected to be completed by Sept. 30, 2020.
The total cumulative face value of the contract is $2,158,348,065. Fiscal 2020 research and development funds are being used and no funds are being obligated at the time of the award. The Space and Missile Systems Center, El Segundo, California, is the contracting activity.