Monday, November 25, 2013

Experimental 'Cubesats' Designed for Range of National Security, Science Missions

Experimental 'Cubesats' Designed for Range of National Security, Science Missions: The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Md., introduced a new generation of small satellites with the launch of two experimental "cubesats" designed for a range of national security and space science operations.

On Wednesday, the cubesats were among 29 satellites lifted to orbit aboard a Minotaur I rocket from Wallops Flight Facility, Va., at 8:15 p.m. EST, as part of the U.S. Air Force ORS-3 mission. APL mission operators confirmed radio contact with the two satellites just before 10 p.m.

The shoebox-sized satellites, part of APL's Multimission Bus Demonstration (and designated ORS Tech 1 and ORS Tech 2 for today's launch), represent a new capability for the military and intelligence and science communities - a small satellite that can get to space inexpensively and be tough enough for long-term use.

"The Multimission Bus Demonstration could revolutionize the field of small satellites and their potential uses," says Joe Suter, APL's mission area executive for National Security Space. "There are applications for DoD agencies that want quick access to space, with durable satellites you can launch for a fraction of what it costs to launch larger spacecraft. MBD can be very significant contribution to those missions."