06 October 2009

Space Weather Microsat Eyes 2010 Launch

One wonders why the AADC website has no mention of this launch; in fact, that site hasn't been updated since February, 2009 (as best we can ascertain). Once again, AADC fails in public relations and communication as we have to find out about launches in Kodiak from out-of-state news sources.

Oct 6, 2009(From Aviation Week)

Cadets at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado have nearly finished integrating the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL)-sponsored FalconSAT-5 microsatellite, which soon will undergo system testing before being shipped to Kodiak Launch Complex in Alaska for launch next year.

The $11 million FalconSAT-5 will fly as a secondary payload on the Space Test Program's (STP) S26 mission, which is slated to launch on May 28, 2010, on a Minotaur IV modified ICBM.

FalconSAT-5 will perform space weather measurements with onboard sensors in collaboration with remote ground sites. On Sept. 25, the satellite's main payload - the Space Plasma Characterization Source (SPCS) - arrived at the Astronautics Laboratory. After fit checking, cadets provided updates on the satellite to STP officials during an S26 payload readiness review Sept. 29. Satellite system testing will take place in the coming months at Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M., and Edwards Air Force Base, Calif.

Manufactured by Busek Inc. of Natick, Mass., under an AFRL Small Business Innovation Research contract, SPCS uses a 500-Watt Hall Effect thruster, propelled by one kilogram of xenon and ammonia cold gas to stimulate the space environment around the satellite and perform small orbital maneuvers. The Integrated Miniaturized Electrostatic Analyzer (iMESA) and Wafer Integrated Spectrometers (WISPERS) payloads measure effects from the thruster's rocket plume on the surrounding space weather environment.

This suite of experiments will measure the local ionosphere, stimulate the local space weather environment, measure the subsequent changes and evaluate ionospheric effects on radio frequency signals for communication impacts, according to an Air Force statement.

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