The Air Force is poised for Tuesday’s launch of the Space Test Program Satellite-3 into orbit from Wallops Island, Va. A Minotaur I rocket will carry STPSat-3 aloft from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility, states a Nov. 13 release from Kirtland AFB, N.M. The Minotaur will also deploy 28 mini experimental satellites known as CubeSats for on-orbit technological demonstrations. This launch is the Air Force’s Operationally Responsive Space-3 mission. It will offer the Air Force the opportunity to demonstrate “the agility and affordability” of commercial-like launch processes and “to validate new concepts for launch resiliency for the future,” Col. William Gillespie, the Space and Missile Systems Center’s launch director, told reporters during a Nov. 14 teleconference. Among STPSat-3’s payloads are a de-orbit module to demonstrate a lightweight, low-cost de-orbit device and a laser illumination sensor. Ball Aerospace built STPSat-3, which has a design life of 13 months, but might be able to operate on orbit for several years, states the release. (Includes Kirtland report by 1st Lt. Michael Clark)
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.