The US Space Systems Command (SSC) and its mission partners have successfully launched the US Space Force’s (USSF)-12 mission.
The mission was scheduled to launch on 29 June, but was postponed for 24 hours due to weather conditions.
On 1 July, USSF-12 was launched from Space Launch Complex (SLC)-41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Florida, aboard a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V 541 rocket.
The rocket included Wide Field of View (WFOV) Geosynchronous Earth Orbit (GEO) testbed and USSF-12 Ring satellites.
SSC Space Sensing programme executive officer colonel Brian Denaro said: “This mission was a joint endeavour between SSC, Nasa and industry partners to advance Overhead Persistent Infrared (OPIR) technologies and concept of operations (CONOPS) through on-orbit demonstration of new materials and techniques.”
The SSC’s WFOV GEO Testbed promotes sensor sensitivity across the total field of view to track dim targets over large areas.
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The other co-prime space vehicle is the Department of Defence (DoD) Space Test Programme’s (STP) USSF-12 Ring.
It is part of Northrop Grumman’s ESPAStar product family, which provides modular features.
Northrop Grumman national security systems vice-president Troy Brashear said: “As the ESPAStar mission owner, we combined critical technology into a single cohesive mission, including hardware integration and test, ground software, command and control development and integration, mission execution planning, and on-orbit operations.”
Separately, SSC and Virgin Orbit National Systems air-launched seven DoD research and development satellites from Mojave Air and Space Port, California, on 1 July.
The space vehicles will provide capability against adversaries in the highly contested space domain.
The USSF awarded a three-launch mission, dubbed STP-S28, to Virgin Orbit National Systems in April 2020.