Up and CHIRP-ing

The Air Force’s first payload hosted aboard a commercial satellite successfully reached space from a launch pad at Kourou, French Guiana. Mounted on the SES-2 communications satellite, the Air Force’s experimental Commercially Hosted Infrared Payload, or CHIRP, blasted off for geosynchronous orbit on Wednesday atop an Ariane V rocket. The “CHIRP launch marks not only the first-ever commercially hosted payload for the Air Force, but also the first-ever wide-field-of-view infrared staring payload in space,” said Col. Scott Beidleman, development planning director at the Space and Missile Systems Center. Technical concerns postponed the scheduled launch in early September; a labor dispute with an Arianespace subcontractor subsequently scrubbed last weekend’s planned mission, reported Spaceflight Now. “We overcame many challenges on the way to today’s launch,” summed Beidleman after lift-off. CHIRP will power up to begin on-orbit experimentation next month. (Includes Los Angeles release)