NRL position unique elliptic-orbit TacSat-4 satellite for launch

March 11, 2011
The TacSat-4 ensemble is readied at Andrews Air Force Base for transport aboard a C-17 Globemaster to Kodiak, Alaska. This C-17 is based in Elmendorf, Alaska and operated by the 3rd and 176th Wings of the USAF. Credit: US Naval Research Laboratory

Naval Research Laboratory spacecraft personnel make final preparations to ready the TacSat-4 spacecraft for a May 2011 launch. Transported March 1, to the Kodiak Alaska airport via an Air Force C-17 and trucked to the Alaska Aerospace Kodiak Launch Complex, the TacSat-4 satellite will be launched aboard an Orbital Sciences Minotaur-IV launch vehicle into a highly elliptical orbit (HEO) with an apogee of 12,050 kilometers.

TacSat-4 is a Navy-led joint mission managed by the NRL Naval Center for Space Technology. The mission of TacSat-4 is to experiment with new (SATCOM) techniques, augment current SATCOM capabilities, and advance the development of Operationally Responsive Space (ORS) systems for improved responsiveness of space capabilities.

TacSat-4 augments current SATCOM by providing communications-on-the-move (COTM) for existing radios without requiring antenna pointing and providing 10 Ultra High Frequency (UHF) channels that can be used for any combination of communications, data ex-filtration, or Blue Force Tracking — a system that provides military commanders and forces with location information about friendly military forces.

TacSat-4 provides flexible up and down channel assignments, which increases the ability to operate in busy, and sometimes restrictive, UHF environments. The unique orbit of TacSat-4 also augments geosynchronous SATCOM by providing near global, but not continuous, coverage to include the high latitudes.

"The ability to provide communications on the move without having to stop and point a SATCOM antenna was the most important user requirement and one which drove the design of the system," said Mike Hurley, section head, NRL Development.

The NRL Blossom Point Ground Station provides the command and control for TacSat-4 and maintains its user Virtual Mission Operations Center (VMOC) tasking system, allowing dynamic reallocation to different theaters worldwide and enabling rapid SATCOM augmentation when unexpected operations or natural events occur.

Explore further: Air Force rocket to launch NASA satellite

Related Stories

Air Force rocket to launch NASA satellite

December 6, 2006

NASA says its GeneSat-1 spacecraft will be carrying bacteria inside a miniature laboratory when it's launched into orbit Monday by a U.S. Air Force rocket.

TacSat-4 spacecraft complete and awaiting launch

December 1, 2009

Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) engineers have completed all environmental and performance testing on the TacSat-4 COMMx payload. This completes the entire TacSat-4 spacecraft as the spacecraft bus was completed in May 2008. ...

NRL ready to deploy virtual mission operations center

August 31, 2010

The Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) is ready to deploy a remarkable capability that has been the focus of a six-year project developed in concert with numerous government and industry partners. Developed by NRL's Spacecraft ...

Successful launch for NASA's microsatellite FASTSAT

November 22, 2010

NASA's Fast, Affordable, Science and Technology Satellite, or FASTSAT, launched at 7:25 p.m. CST Friday aboard a Minotaur IV rocket from Kodiak Launch Complex on Kodiak Island, Alaska. FASTSAT is a unique platform that can ...

Recommended for you

Fossilized rivers suggest warm, wet ancient Mars

August 23, 2016

Extensive systems of fossilised riverbeds have been discovered on an ancient region of the Martian surface, supporting the idea that the now cold and dry Red Planet had a warm and wet climate about 4 billion years ago, according ...

Image: Planck's flame-filled view of the Polaris Flare

August 23, 2016

This image from ESA's Planck satellite appears to show something quite ethereal and fantastical: a sprite-like figure emerging from scorching flames and walking towards the left of the frame, its silhouette a blaze of warm-hued ...

What do aliens look like? The clue is in evolution

August 19, 2016

Speculating about what aliens look like has kept children, film producers and scientists amused for decades. If they exist, will extra terrestrials turn out to look similar to us, or might they take a form beyond our wildest ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.