ORS-1 is the first satellite in the DOD’s Operationally Responsive Space Office (ORS) program designed to support Combatant Command operations as an operational prototype. The payload leverages a SYERS-2 sensor, the primary imaging sensor on the U-2 reconnaissance plane. The ORS-1 payload was built by the Goodrich Corporation, who also served as prime contractor, while the spacecraft bus was built by ATK Spacecraft Systems & Services, Beltsville, Md. It includes an integrated propulsion system as well as other critical subsystems for communications, attitude control, thermal control and command and data handling. ORS-1 will provide crucial battlespace awareness supporting U.S. Central Command.
Col. Carol P. Welsch, Acting Director of the Space Development and Test Directorate, and the mission director for ORS-1 shared some background and thoughts on the mission.
“In 2008, the Operationally Responsive Space Office approached the Space Development and Test Directorate and suggested a partnership to meet an urgent warfighter need. We knew this would be a tough challenge, but we were eager to do whatever we could to assist US Central Command. I want to thank Dr. Wegner for his confidence in the Space Development and Test Directorate. As a result of this partnership, the Space Development and Test Directorate was tasked to provide the satellite, command and control system, test capabilities, and the launch vehicle. We are immensely proud to field space capabilities supporting U.S. Central Command and our forces engaged in the fight.
“In order to meet the timelines requested by US Central Command, we tailored the Space and Missiles Systems Center’s standard approach to space acquisition to accept a higher risk posture than other than other space system acquisition programs. For example, ORS-1 uses some components which have not been qualified to standards for space flight. To mitigate some of the risk, the team introduced measures such as memory error detection and correction algorithms to help detect and repair any upsets to the on-board memory. Along the way we’ve learned many lessons in the art of rapid space acquisitions, and once ORS-1 is on-orbit, we will continue to learn how to more rapidly provide space capabilities. This combined government and contractor team has demonstrated great dedication and persistence to meet the challenge of developing a new satellite and supporting ground system in record time.
“On the launch vehicle side, this mission represents another milestone for the Minotaur program. This will be the 10th launch of the Minotaur I and the 4th launch for the Minotaur program from the Wallops Flight Facility.”
The Space Development and Test Directorate’s mission is to deliver small, responsive space capabilities to users across the National Security Space community. The Directorate consists of a combined team of 1,000+ military, government civilians and contractors responsible for the development, acquisition, launch, demonstration, test and operations of Department of Defense and civil space systems. As the Director of the DOD Space Test Program, Col. Welsch is responsible for executing the DOD Space Test Program, providing access to space for over 73 space experiments from across the DOD Services and Agencies.
(Los Angeles Air Force Base contributed to this report.)