First Hosted Payload Set for Launch

An experimental wide-angle infrared sensor known as “CHIRP” is set to enter the history books as the first military payload deployed on a civilian satellite. The Commercially Hosted Infrared Payload, intended to evaluate future space-based missile warning technology, will perch in geosynchronous orbit aboard the commercial SES-2 communications satellite. “Because commercial satellite operators are launching spacecraft at such a pace, hitching the next ride for a sensor gets the payloads on orbit to the warfighter much more quickly,” explained Gregg Burgess, satellite manufacturer Orbital Sciences’ vice president for national security. Combined with the fact that reaching orbit will cost roughly 85 percent less than a typical Air Force launch, CHIRP “is the first, hopefully, of many [hosted payloads] that we’ll see in the coming years,” added Doug Loverro, executive director of USAF’s Space and Missile Systems Center at Los Angeles AFB, Calif., during Monday’s media teleconference. Barring unforeseen delay, CHRIP will blast off aboard an Ariane V rocket from the spaceport at Kourou, French Guiana, on Sept. 17. (See also Experimental Sensor Delivered for Satellite Integration from the Daily Report archives.)