Artist's rendering of TacSat-2
|Major contractors||MicroSat Systems|
|Mission type||Technology demonstrator|
|Launch date||December 16, 2006|
|Carrier rocket||Minotaur I|
|Launch site||Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport|
|Orbital decay||February 5, 2011|
|Mass||370 kg (820 lb)|
|Regime||Low Earth orbit|
|Apoapsis||424 km (263 mi)|
|Periapsis||413 km (257 mi)|
|Orbital period||92.9 min|
TacSat-2 (also known as JWS-D1 or RoadRunner) is an experimental satellite built by the USAF's Air Force Research Laboratory with an operational life expected to be not more than one year as part of the 'Advanced Concept Technology Demonstration' program.
The TacSat series of experimental spacecraft are designed to allow military commanders on a battlefield to request and obtain imagery and other data from a satellite as it passes overhead. Collected data will be delivered to field commanders in minutes rather than hours or days. The sensor on TacSat-2 can collect color images sharp enough to distinguish ground objects as small as 1 meter in diameter.
TacSat-2 was launched on 16 December 2006 from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport using an Orbital Sciences Minotaur launch vehicle. The Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport is a commercial space launch facility located on the Delmarva Peninsula 5 miles (8.0 km) west of Chincoteague, Virginia.
Satellites in the TacSat series were planned to use commercial or available launchers, and largely off-the-shelf components, in order to reduce costs.
The space platform was built by MicroSat Systems of Littleton, Colorado. The core avionics of the spacecraft including command and data handling, electrical power switching and distribution, and subsystem & payload interfaces is handled by an Integrated Avionics Unit (IAU) developed by Broad Reach Engineering (http://www.broadreachengineering.com). The spacecraft flight software consists of the low level drivers, and bus manager functionality provided by Broad Reach Engineering, ADCS Software by ASI (http://www.go-asi.com), and a number of higher level applications by 3rd parties, most notably the Autonomous Tasking Experiment (ATE) by Interface & Control Systems (http://www.interfacecontrol.com).
Camera / Telescope
The developers originally asked for bids from contractors for a camera. These were priced at around USD$10 million. The team then bought a high-end observatory telescope costing around $20,000 and added a camera sensor ($2 million), delivering a sensor capable of 1m ground resolution.
A signals intelligence payload, called the Target Indicator Experiment, detects radio wave emitters and can be used in concert with receivers on other platforms such as the US Navy's P-3C maritime patrol aircraft.
Other systems include:
- RoadRunner Onboard Processing Experiment (ROPE)
- Common Data Link (CDL)
- Autonomous Operations
- Hall Effect Thruster (HET)
- Propulsion Instrument Electronics (PIE) sensor suite
- Inertial Stellar Compass (ISC)
- Low Power Transceiver (LPT)
- Integrated GPS Occultation Receiver (IGOR)
- Atmospheric Density Mass Spectrometer (ADMS)
- Experimental Solar Array
- Miniaturized Vibration Isolation System (MVIS)
The orbit is planned to have a height of 410 km at an inclination of 40 degrees to the equator. TacSat-2 decayed on February 5, 2011.
Apart from the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), other organisations participating included:
- DOD Space Test Program (Space and Missile Systems Center’s Space Development and Test Wing),
- Naval Research Laboratory,
- Army Space Program Office,
- Air Force Space Command,
- Space Warfare Center,
- Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL),
- http://pdf.aiaa.org/preview/CDReadyMSPACE05_1181/PV2005_6830.pdf Accessed 28 June 2007
- Singer, Jeremy (2006-12-04). "USAF To Experiment With Satellite To Improve Ground Communications". Defense News.
- Singer, Jeremy (2006-12-07). "TacSat-2 Ushers in New Era in Satellite Operations". Space News. Retrieved 2008-08-07.
- Astronautix - Tacsat2
- "Integrated GPS Occultation Receiver". Broad Reach Engineering.
- USAF (2006-09-01), TacSat-2 Micro Satellite (PDF), Air Force Research Laboratory, retrieved 2006-12-18
- "TacSat-2 Mission Information". NASA.