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ATK Announces TacSat-3 Satellite Has Exceeded Planned Mission Life, Reaching Two Year Anniversary On-Orbit

June 7, 2011


ATK joins the U.S. Air Force Space Command in observing the two year anniversary on-orbit for the Tactical Satellite-3 (TacSat-3). Originally designed for six months of operation with a one year goal, the spacecraft successfully transitioned from experimental to operational status last year, outliving its design life and surpassing original mission requirements.


Launched in May 2009, TacSat-3's mission is to demonstrate capability to conduct hyperspectral imaging that is responsive to the needs of U.S. warfighters. Since then, the spacecraft has delivered over 2,100 images and demonstrated the ability to transmit processed data to a ground station within ten minutes. The spacecraft is a pioneer of the emerging Operationally Responsive Space program, which was designed to meet the growing need of U.S. forces for flexible, affordable and responsive satellite systems.


ATK, as the spacecraft bus prime contractor, provided the complete bus system, which included the onboard command and data handling system, solar arrays, spacecraft bus primary structure, and interfaces to the launch vehicle and payload. Built and designed in just 15 months, ATK's spacecraft bus met the TacSat-3 program goals of being operationally responsive, low-cost and with expected performance. The spacecraft also featured first generation modular bus technology designed to provide flexibility for future small satellite missions.  


"TacSat-3's longevity and robustness shows that our innovative bus technology was a key factor in the success of this mission," said Tom Wilson, vice president and general manager, Spacecraft Systems and Services, a division of ATK Aerospace Systems. "We are already applying and enhancing our flexible, modular bus platforms for future small satellite missions that include the ORS-1 spacecraft. This technology is also well-suited for commercial and international missions where affordability, high performance, and a short turnaround are necessary."


Like TacSat-3, the Operationally Responsive Space-1 (ORS-1) mission focuses on the quick deployment of small satellites with innovative sensor technologies to provide operationally responsive ISR support to commanders in the battlefield. ORS-1 is due to be launched later this year.


The TacSat-3 program is managed by the Air Force Space Command with collaboration from the Air Force Research Laboratory Space Vehicles Directorate and the Army Space and Missile Defense Command.