ATK Aerospace Systems Group and the U.S. Air Force declared Sept. 16 that the first of a new breed of spacecraft intended to deliver new capabilities quickly to military forces in the field is now operational.
The Operationally Responsive Space (ORS)-1 satellite was launched June 29 from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport at NASA Wallops Flight Facility at Wallops Island, Va. Equipped with an imaging camera, it was designed and built in response to what military officials characterized as an urgent requirement at U.S. Central Command, which oversees U.S.-led operations in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere in the region.
ATK built the spacecraft platform, or bus, in 16 months at its Beltsville, Md., facility. Goodrich Corp.’s facility in Danbury, Conn., supplied the camera, adapted from the U2 spy plane program, and performed final assembly as the prime contractor for the ORS-1 satellite.
“As the spacecraft bus provider … ATK is proud to be part of this transformational achievement in the growing market for affordable small satellites supporting warfighter needs,” Tom Wilson, vice president and general manager of the spacecraft systems and services division of ATK, said in a statement.
The satellite bus is based on the design that ATK had used for the experimental TacSat-3 satellite with an added propulsion module. ORS-1 is the first operational spacecraft to be built and launched as part of the Pentagon’s Operationally Responsive Space effort, which is intended to field new space-based capabilities quickly in response to emerging needs on the battlefield.