A Handy-Dandy Satellite Mount: The Space and Missile Systems Center and Air Force Research Lab have developed a device that will enable a launch vehicle to carry up to six additional small satellites—saving the cost of multiple launches. It is dubbed the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle Secondary Payload Adapter, or ESPA ring. It’s a half-inch thick aluminum ring—about five feet in diameter and two feet tall—that fits between the rocket and the largest satellite, with mounts around the ring to attach additional satellites. The Air Force plans to fly the inaugural ESPA this fall.
The Air Force overall reduced its size by 120 aircraft in fiscal year 2021, but kept about the same number of fighter, bomber and attack aircraft, according to data supplied by the service. The F-35 fleet saw the biggest increase while the B-1B bomber fleet saw the largest decline.