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Minotaur Launch


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#1    Waspie_Dwarf

Waspie_Dwarf

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Posted 05 December 2006 - 12:49 AM

Minotaur to Launch USAF Satellite

Minotaur SLV Mission #6 – TacSat-2

Launch Date: December 11, 2006
Launch Site: Wallops Island, VA
Launch Vehicle: Minotaur I
Mission Customer: Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL)

IPB Image

In December 2006, a Minotaur I rocket carrying the
TacSat-2 experimental microsatellite will be launched from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS) launch site at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility (WFF) in Virginia. The mission is the first of two awarded to Orbital in May 2006 by the United States Air Force (USAF) Space and Missile Systems Center designed to demonstrate new technologies and capabilities for providing responsive space-based support of military operations. The TacSat-2 mission will demonstrate the ability to launch a payload approximately six months following contract award. The second mission to launch the TacSat-3 satellite is scheduled to take place in October 2007.

The TacSat-2 launch will be the first Minotaur vehicle launched from MARS and the first space launch mission from Wallops Island in over 11 years. It will also be the first demonstration of a new 61-inch diameter fairing for the Minotaur I launch vehicle.
The Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), in partnership with the Space Development and Test Wing (SDTW), both at Kirtland AFB, NM, is leading the TacSat-2 and -3 joint development teams in partnerships that include space organizations from the Air Force, Navy and Army. AFRL was also responsible for the development of the new 61" Minotaur fairing.

About the Minotaur Family of Launchers

IPB Image

Provided under the U.S. Air Force Orbital/Suborbital Program-2 (OSP-2) contract, the Minotaur family of launch vehicles is derived from U.S. Government-supplied Minuteman and Peacekeeper rocket motors. The space launch configurations combine commercial rocket motors, avionics and other elements with the government-supplied stages to create responsive, reliable and low-cost launch systems for U.S. government payloads. The integrated launch service is provided by the Rocket Systems Launch Program under the USAF. Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC) Space Development and Test Wing (SDTW) at Kirtland AFB, New Mexico.

The Minotaur I space launch vehicle configuration used in the TacSat-2 launch includes Minuteman rocket motors that serve as the vehicle's first and second stages, efficiently reusing motors that have been previously decommissioned. Its third and fourth stages and structures are common with Orbital's highly reliable Pegasus XL rocket.

The rockets that will launch TacSat-2 and -3 microsatellites are the seventh and eighth Minotaur I space launch vehicles to be ordered by the USAF and are the 18th and 19th orders placed for the complete Minotaur family of launch vehicles.

In addition to the launch of the TacSat-3 spacecraft from the MARS facility in October 2007, a Minotaur I mission to launch the Near Field Infrared Experiment (NFIRE) spacecraft will take place in April 2007.


Source: Orbital - Mission Updates

"Space is big. Really big. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mind-boggingly big it is. I mean, you may think it's a long way down the street to the chemist, but that's just peanuts to space." - The Hitch-Hikers Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams 1952 - 2001

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#2    Waspie_Dwarf

Waspie_Dwarf

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Posted 05 December 2006 - 10:05 PM

NASA'S GENESAT-1 To Hitch a Ride On Air Force Rocket

The IPB Image press release is reproduced below:

Dec. 5, 2006
Erica Hupp/Michael Braukus
Headquarters, Washington
202-358-1237/1979

John Bluck
Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif.
650-604-5026/9000

RELEASE: 06-363

NASA'S GENESAT-1 To Hitch a Ride On Air Force Rocket


WASHINGTON - NASA's GeneSat-1 is set to launch into orbit on an Air Force rocket on Dec. 11 from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility, Wallops Island, Va. The launch window extends from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. EST.

GeneSat-1 is a 10-pound satellite that will carry bacteria inside a miniature laboratory to study how the microbes may respond in spaceflight. It is a secondary payload on an Air Force four-stage Minotaur 1 rocket delivering the Air Force TacSat 2 satellite to orbit.

"The Small Satellite Office at NASA's Ames Research Center teamed up with industry and local universities to develop the fully automated, miniature GeneSat spaceflight system that provides life support for small living things," said S. Pete Worden, director of NASA's Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif. GeneSat-1 was designed and built at Ames, and the mission will be managed from the center.

"During this mission, we are exposing bacteria to the space environment to see how they are affected," said John Hines, GeneSat-1 project manager at Ames. "It is the first of many small satellites that will give scientists the opportunity to inexpensively investigate fundamental biological questions such as the weakening of the immune systems and the effects of drug therapies during spaceflight."

GeneSat-1's onboard micro-laboratory includes sensors and optical systems that can detect proteins that are the products of specific genetic activity. The GeneSat-1 ground control station at Ames will receive data radioed from the micro-laboratory after it has completed its observations and tests of the bacteria inside.

The biological test will last only 96 hours, but the GeneSat-1 team will evaluate the stability of the orbiting payload's systems for four months to a year. Air pressure, temperature and humidity are controlled aboard GeneSat-1. Light emitting diodes illuminate analytical sensors that help scientists detect genetic activity by measuring proteins that glow.

The knowledge gained from GeneSat-1 will help scientists understand how spaceflight affects the human body; specifically, the intestinal bacteria that help human beings digest food. NASA's Exploration Systems Mission Directorate provided funding for the payload's initial development.

Students from several universities are making major contributions to the mission. California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, developed a launch "pod" that will protect and eject the satellite once it is flown into space. Stanford University, Calif., developed the satellite's data collection and transmission equipment and its solar power generator.

Students from Santa Clara University, Calif., will control the spacecraft in orbit from the Ames mission operations center. They also developed software that will send commands to the satellite, analyze spacecraft health and calibrate biological data sent to Earth.

The universities are members of the Silicon Valley Center for Robotics Exploration and Space Technologies (CREST) at NASA Research Park, Moffett Field, Calif. CREST is a consortium of universities and industry and government partners. CREST develops interactive partnerships that integrate disciplines, research and education to produce next-generation innovations in engineered systems.

For more information about NASA and agency programs, visit:
http://www.nasa.gov

- end -

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Source: NASA Press Release 06-363

"Space is big. Really big. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mind-boggingly big it is. I mean, you may think it's a long way down the street to the chemist, but that's just peanuts to space." - The Hitch-Hikers Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams 1952 - 2001

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#3    Waspie_Dwarf

Waspie_Dwarf

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Posted 10 December 2006 - 02:22 AM


Image above: The TacSat-2 micro satellite is readied for thermal vacuum
testing at AFRL's Space Vehicles Directorate, Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M.
Credit: Air Force


TacSat-2 Launch
The TacSat-2 launch is scheduled for December 11, 2006. The launch period window runs from December 11 to December 20. The launch window on December 11 runs from 7 to 10 a.m.

TacSat-2 Mission
TacSat-2 features 11 onboard experiments, which will be conducted during the spacecraft’s planned six to 12-month mission. The U.S. Navy’s Target Indicator Experiment (TIE) consists of a wideband sensor to gather radar, radio, and handheld communication signals. The TIE will also check for the automated identification transmission now mandated for large ocean-going ships. TacSat-2 can directly talk to any common data link compatible ground station across the globe.

Other features include the integrated global positioning system occultation receiver, which will compile high-precision location data for the micro satellite, recycled solar array panels producing 500 watts of power, and autonomous operations allowing TacSat-2 to think for itself.

TacSat-2 will be propelled into a circular orbit approximately 255 miles above the Earth by a Minotaur I launch vehicle. The satellite, housed in a shroud atop the rocket, will be released into space between 100,000 and 150,000 feet altitude, and will share the brief ride into the cosmos with NASA’s GeneSat-1.


Source: NASA - TacSat-2

"Space is big. Really big. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mind-boggingly big it is. I mean, you may think it's a long way down the street to the chemist, but that's just peanuts to space." - The Hitch-Hikers Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams 1952 - 2001

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#4    Waspie_Dwarf

Waspie_Dwarf

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Posted 11 December 2006 - 10:06 AM

LAUNCH UPDATE: 1:45 a.m. 12/11/06:
The launch of the TacSat-2 has been scrubbed for today. More information will follow this afternoon.


Source: NASA - Wallops Flight Facillity

"Space is big. Really big. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mind-boggingly big it is. I mean, you may think it's a long way down the street to the chemist, but that's just peanuts to space." - The Hitch-Hikers Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams 1952 - 2001

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#5    Waspie_Dwarf

Waspie_Dwarf

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Posted 12 December 2006 - 08:09 PM

LAUNCH UPDATE: 10:00 a.m. 12/12/06:
The TacSat-2/Minotaur 1 launch set for Monday, Dec. 11, has been delayed with Friday, Dec. 15 as the earliest possible launch date. Analysis and testing continue on the TacSat-2 flight software and the ground-based simulator at Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M. The launch window now extends to Dec. 22. Launch time remains 7 to 10 a.m. each day. As information becomes available, updates will be provided on this web site (link below) and on the launch status line at 757-824-2050.


Source: NASA - Wallops Flight Facillity


"Space is big. Really big. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mind-boggingly big it is. I mean, you may think it's a long way down the street to the chemist, but that's just peanuts to space." - The Hitch-Hikers Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams 1952 - 2001

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#6    Waspie_Dwarf

Waspie_Dwarf

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Posted 16 December 2006 - 03:44 PM

linked-image
Image above: Launch of the TacSat-2 from Wallops Flight Facility, Wallops, VA.
Credit: NASA


TacSat-2 launched successfully at 7 a.m. EST on Saturday, Dec. 16. TacSat-2 will be propelled into a circular orbit approximately 255 miles above the Earth by a Minotaur I launch vehicle. The satellite, housed in a shroud atop the rocket, will be released into space between 100,000 and 150,000 feet altitude, and will share the brief ride into the cosmos with NASA’s GeneSat-1.

TacSat-2 features 11 onboard experiments, which will be conducted during the spacecraft’s planned six to 12-month mission. The U.S. Navy’s Target Indicator Experiment (TIE) consists of a wideband sensor to gather radar, radio, and handheld communication signals. The TIE will also check for the automated identification transmission now mandated for large ocean-going ships. TacSat-2 can directly talk to any common data link compatible ground station across the globe.

Other features include the integrated global positioning system occultation receiver, which will compile high-precision location data for the micro satellite, recycled solar array panels producing 500 watts of power, and autonomous operations allowing TacSat-2 to think for itself.


Source: NASA - TacSat-2

Edited by Waspie_Dwarf, 19 December 2006 - 05:31 AM.
added launch photo

"Space is big. Really big. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mind-boggingly big it is. I mean, you may think it's a long way down the street to the chemist, but that's just peanuts to space." - The Hitch-Hikers Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams 1952 - 2001

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#7    Waspie_Dwarf

Waspie_Dwarf

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Posted 18 December 2006 - 06:30 AM

GeneSat-1 Reaches Orbit on Air Force Rocket

The linked-image Ames Research Center press release is reproduced below:

December 16, 2006
John Bluck
NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif.
Phone: (650) 604-5026
E-mail: jbluck@mail.arc.nasa.gov

RELEASE: 06_94AR

Mission Status Report: NASA's GeneSat-1 Reaches Orbit on Air Force Rocket


MOFFETT FIELD, Calif. - NASA's GeneSat-1 rode an Air Force rocket into Earth orbit on Dec. 16, 2006 at 4 a.m. PST (7 a.m. EST) from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility, Wallops Island, Va. The satellite's locator beacon has been detected, and data has been received as GeneSat-1 orbits Earth, according to scientists.

GeneSat-1 is a 10-pound satellite carrying bacteria inside a miniature laboratory to study how the microbes may respond in spaceflight. GeneSat-1 was a secondary payload on an Air Force four-stage Minotaur 1 rocket that also delivered the Air Force TacSat 2 satellite to orbit.

"It's wonderful to hear that GeneSat-1 is orbiting Earth, and I extend my congratulations the whole GeneSat-1 team, including NASA people, industry partners and university students," said S. Pete Worden, director of NASA's Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif. GeneSat-1 was designed and built at Ames, and the mission will be managed from the center. "This success shows that a lot can be done with small satellites made with modest budgets," Worden added.

The Small Spacecraft Office at NASA's Ames teamed up with industry and local universities to develop the fully automated, miniature GeneSat spaceflight system that provides life support for small living things.

"During this mission, we are exposing bacteria to the space environment to see how they are affected," said John Hines, GeneSat-1 project manager at NASA Ames. GeneSat-1's onboard micro-laboratory includes sensors and optical systems that can detect proteins that are the products of specific genetic activity. The GeneSat-1 ground control station at NASA Ames will receive data radioed from the micro-laboratory after it has completed its observations and tests of the bacteria inside.

The biological test will last only 96 hours, but the GeneSat-1 team will evaluate the stability of the orbiting payload's systems for four months to a year.

"GeneSat is the first of many small spacecraft and missions being developed and managed in the NASA Ames Small Spacecraft Office, which has been established to specifically demonstrate the capability to rapidly develop and deploy small, low-cost spacecraft missions and flight systems," Hines observed.

For the most current launch information, please telephone Keith Koehler, public affairs, at Wallops Flight Facility: 757-824-1579, or visit:

To view the launch via webcast, please visit:

For more information about GeneSat-1, please visit:

Publication-size images are available at:
http://www.nasa.gov/...06/genebox.html

- end -

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Source: NASA/ARC Press Release 06_94AR

"Space is big. Really big. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mind-boggingly big it is. I mean, you may think it's a long way down the street to the chemist, but that's just peanuts to space." - The Hitch-Hikers Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams 1952 - 2001

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#8    Waspie_Dwarf

Waspie_Dwarf

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Posted 18 December 2006 - 06:34 AM

GeneSat-1 Radios Data to Team on Earth

The linked-image Ames Research Center press release is reproduced below:

December 17, 2006
John Bluck
NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif.
Phone: (650) 604-5026
E-mail: jbluck@mail.arc.nasa.gov

RELEASE: 06_95AR

Mission Status Report: NASA's Orbiting GeneSat-1 Radios Date to Team on Earth


MOFFETT FIELD, Calif. - NASA's GeneSat-1 satellite continues to orbit Earth, and researchers are receiving radioed data from the spacecraft. It was launched Saturday, Dec. 16, 2006, from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility, Wallops Island, Va.

GeneSat-1 is a 10-pound satellite carrying bacteria inside a miniature laboratory to study how the microbes may respond in spaceflight. GeneSat-1 was a secondary payload on an Air Force four-stage Minotaur 1 rocket that also delivered the Air Force TacSat 2 satellite to orbit.

GeneSat-1 was designed and built at NASA's Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif., and the mission is being managed from the center. John Hines, GeneSat-1 project manager at NASA Ames, has been providing e-mail updates about the spacecraft. Here are some excerpts from his messages:

----------
6:28 p.m. PST, Dec. 16, 2006, John Hines wrote:
My team has worked for the past 12 days nonstop to support this launch and ops startup from multiple locations. The universities are conducting mission ops, and we have all been up and on task non-stop since 3 a.m. PST this morning, and will be again on ops tasks from 2 a.m. tonight, onward. . . .

----------
At 19:32 -0800 12/16/06, Mike McIntyre wrote:
154 unique beacon packets were sent in from all over the United States and the world (including Brazil and Japan) during our first day of operations. This data spans about three hours, and the statistics are as follows. We need more data to draw firm conclusions, but this is a good first look. This basically repeats what is on SCU's dashboard:


(Notice that the Mean Solar Panel Temperature has been changed to 0 degrees C. after more analysis).

It is very exciting to see all these beacon packets coming in from all over.

---Mike

----------
GeneSat Status as of 3:58 a.m. PST, Dec. 17, 2006 (per verbal from Chris Kitts):

I'm happy to report that we've now received 2.4Ghz transceiver data, and are now pulling down some of the archived housekeeping data from both bus and payload. We have several more passes at approximately 90-minute intervals until around 8 a.m. PST. We will discuss our results to date with our Ops and Science team at our 9 a.m. PST internal Ops telcon today, and assess our functional status.

If all goes well, and the GeneSat is stable enough. (G, temperature, and ambient pressure); we may be able to initiate our biological experiment as early as Sunday evening (Dec. 17, 2006) or Monday (Dec. 18, 2006).

----------
End of e-mail excerpts.

Earlier, Hines explained, "During this mission, we are exposing bacteria to the space environment to see how they are affected." GeneSat-1's onboard micro-laboratory includes sensors and optical systems that can detect proteins that are the products of specific genetic activity.

The GeneSat-1 ground control station at NASA Ames will receive data radioed from the micro-laboratory after it has completed its observations and tests of the bacteria inside. The biological test will last only 96 hours, but the GeneSat-1 team will evaluate the stability of the orbiting payload's systems for four months to a year.

The Small Spacecraft Office at NASA's Ames teamed up with industry and local universities to develop the fully automated, miniature GeneSat spaceflight system that provides life support for small living things.

"GeneSat is the first of many small spacecraft and missions being developed and managed in the NASA Ames Small Spacecraft Office, which has been established to specifically demonstrate the capability to rapidly develop and deploy small, low-cost spacecraft missions and flight systems," Hines observed.

For more information about GeneSat-1, please visit:

Publication-size images are available at:
http://www.nasa.gov/...06/genebox.html

- end -

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Source: NASA/ARC Press Release 06_95AR

"Space is big. Really big. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mind-boggingly big it is. I mean, you may think it's a long way down the street to the chemist, but that's just peanuts to space." - The Hitch-Hikers Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams 1952 - 2001

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#9    Waspie_Dwarf

Waspie_Dwarf

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    Oscar Wilde

Posted 19 December 2006 - 05:20 AM

The Orbital press release is reproduced below:

Orbital Successfully Launches Minotaur Rocket Carrying U.S. Air Force's TacSat-2 Satellite
Launch Conducted From Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility Continues Minotaur Program's 100% Mission Success Record
NASA's GeneSat-1 Microsatellite Also Deployed During Mission

(Dulles, VA 18 December 2006) - Orbital Sciences Corporation (NYSE: ORB) today announced that it successfully launched the TACSAT-2 satellite for the U.S. Air Force aboard a Minotaur I space launch vehicle. The Minotaur launch was carried out by Orbital for the U.S. Air Force's Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC) Space Development and Test Wing (SDTW) located at Kirtland Air Force Base in New Mexico. The mission originated on Saturday, December 16 at approximately 7:00 a.m. (EST) from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS), a private facility located at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) Wallops Flight Facility.

Approximately 11 minutes following lift-off, the Minotaur rocket accurately placed the TACSAT-2 spacecraft into a low-altitude orbit above the Earth. In addition to the Air Force's TACSAT-2 spacecraft, the Minotuar rocket also deployed a very small "microsatellite" for NASA's Ames Research Center known as GeneSat-1.

"The Air Force/Orbital Minotaur launch team did another fantastic job on this mission," said Mr. Ron Grabe, Orbital's Executive Vice President and General Manager of its Launch Systems Group. "We were challenged to conduct the mission on a very short schedule to demonstrate the Minotaur's quick turnaround, responsive launch capabilities. I am very proud of how our Minotaur program came through for our customer, the Space and Missile Systems Center, which is leading the charge to develop and demonstrate Operationally Responsive Space (ORS) missions for the U.S. military. We carried out the Minotaur/TACSAT-2 mission in just seven months from the start of the contract to the completion of today's mission."

Minotaur I launches have now put a total of 24 satellites into orbit. The TACSAT-2 mission was the 11th consecutive successful launch of the Minotaur family of space and suborbital launch vehicles since the program's first flight in January 2000. Over the next three years, another eight Minotaur rockets are under contract to carry out important U.S. government missions in future years.

The TACSAT-2 mission is a trailblazing demonstration of ORS satellite and launch vehicle technologies. The mission began with contract award and kick-off in late May 2006 and the Minotaur vehicle was ready for launch just 200 days later. Achieving this responsive capability required a dramatic compression of the normal mission integration, range interface and field processing schedules. The final operational schedule, from the beginning of spacecraft integration with the launch vehicle to readiness for launch, was independently monitored and timed. The Minotaur program demonstrated its ability to launch with a "call up" time of less than one week, fully accomplishing the ORS goal for rapid spacecraft launch. The lessons learned from these efforts to dramatically reduce the schedules will be applied in ways that will further compress the response time of Minotaur vehicles in support of ORS.

Orbital's Minotaur vehicles are the only proven launch vehicles currently capable of supporting the Department of Defense's evolving ORS launch requirements. They are specifically designed to be capable of launching from all U.S. spaceports, including government and commercial launch sites in Alaska, California, Florida and Virginia. Due to the minimal amount of specialized infrastructure that is required to support Minotaur launches, they can also be deployed at other U.S. launch sites.

The TACSAT-2 mission also featured several "firsts" for the Minotaur program. Saturday's launch was the first Minotaur flight to be conducted from MARS at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility. The previous five Minotaur I space launches had been conducted from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The rocket also debuted a new 61-inch payload fairing, the protective cover that encases the satellite as it flies through the atmosphere. The wider fairing will accommodate a larger satellite than the previous 50-inch diameter fairing.

About the TACSAT-2 and GeneSat Spacecraft

The TACSAT-2 satellite is part of a series of experimental spacecraft designed to demonstrate new technologies and capabilities for providing responsive space-based support of military operations. The TACSAT-2 spacecraft has multiple experiments onboard, although the primary experiment is a medium resolution imager that will demonstrate the ability to be autonomously tasked and rapidly provide data to troops on the ground. The TACSAT series of satellites, plus the quick-reaction Minotaur I launches, are key parts of the U.S. government's effort to develop Operationally Responsive Space (ORS) systems. The Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), in partnership with SDTW, both at Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico is leading both the TACSAT-2 and -3 joint development teams in partnerships that include space organizations from the Air Force, Navy and Army.

The GeneSat-1 picosatellite is an astrobiology experiment to monitor space environment effects on bacteria. The approximately four inch square by one foot long, 10-pound spacecraft was designed and built by NASA Ames Research Center with participation by students at Santa Clara University.

About Orbital

Orbital develops and manufactures small rockets and space systems for commercial, military and civil government customers. The company's primary products are satellites and launch vehicles, including low-orbit, geosynchronous-orbit and planetary spacecraft for communications, remote sensing, scientific and defense missions; ground- and air-launched rockets that deliver satellites into orbit; and missile defense systems that are used as interceptor and target vehicles. Orbital also offers space-related technical services to government agencies and develops and builds satellite-based transportation management systems for public transit agencies and private vehicle fleet operators.

More information about Orbital can be found at http://www.orbital.com


Source: Orbital press release

"Space is big. Really big. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mind-boggingly big it is. I mean, you may think it's a long way down the street to the chemist, but that's just peanuts to space." - The Hitch-Hikers Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams 1952 - 2001

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#10    Waspie_Dwarf

Waspie_Dwarf

    Space Cadet

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    Oscar Wilde

Posted 19 December 2006 - 05:38 AM

NASA Starts Experiment on Orbiting GeneSat-1 Satellite

The linked-image Ames Research Center press release is reproduced below:

December 18, 2006
John Bluck
NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif.
Phone: (650) 604-5026
E-mail: jbluck@mail.arc.nasa.gov

RELEASE: 06_97AR

Mission Status Report: NASA Starts Experiment on Orbiting GeneSat-1 Satellite


MOFFETT FIELD, Calif. – Scientists today started the biology experiment aboard NASA's GeneSat-1 satellite, which is orbiting Earth.

At 6:26 a.m. PST, Dec. 18, 2006, the GeneSat-1 status report noted that, "All systems are functioning normally, and we have full two-way radio control. It has been verified that we are collecting experiment data."

Earlier, at 5:42 a.m. PST, Dec. 18, 2006, another status report from GeneSat scientists said, "The GeneSat-1 biology experiment 'start command' was issued about 4 a.m. PST (2nd pass of the night / morning). Housekeeping data from third pass (current pass 5:30 a.m. PST) indicate that payload data is being generated, thus in operation per command. Biology experiment should begin in about 20 minutes (after heaters warm . . . to operating temperature, and GeneSat-1 emerges from solar eclipse). We should have good indication of initial experiment data after the 7 a.m. PST pass (4th of night.)"

GeneSat-1 is a 10-pound satellite carrying bacteria inside a miniature laboratory.

"During this mission, we are exposing bacteria to the space environment to see how they are affected," said John Hines, the GeneSat project manager at NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif. GeneSat-1's onboard micro-laboratory includes sensors and optical systems that can detect proteins that are the products of specific genetic activity.

GeneSat-1 was designed and built at NASA Ames Research Center, and the mission is being managed from the center. The satellite was launched Saturday, Dec. 16, 2006, from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility, Wallops Island, Va. The NASA satellite was a secondary payload on an Air Force four-stage Minotaur 1 rocket that also delivered the Air Force TacSat 2 satellite to orbit.

Plans call for the GeneSat-1 ground control station at NASA Ames to receive data radioed from the micro-laboratory after it has completed its observations and tests of the bacteria inside. The biological test is to last only 96 hours, but the GeneSat-1 team will evaluate the stability of the orbiting payload's systems for four months to a year.

The Small Spacecraft Office at NASA's Ames teamed up with industry and local universities to develop the fully automated, miniature GeneSat spaceflight system that provides life support for small living things

For more information about GeneSat-1, please visit:

Technical readouts from the GeneSat-1 mission can be seen on the GeneSat-1 dashboard on the Internet:

Publication-size images are available at:
http://www.nasa.gov/...06/genebox.html

- end -

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Source: NASA/ARC Press Release 06_97AR

"Space is big. Really big. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mind-boggingly big it is. I mean, you may think it's a long way down the street to the chemist, but that's just peanuts to space." - The Hitch-Hikers Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams 1952 - 2001

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