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Mission type Technology
Operator NRL
Spacecraft properties
Launch mass 108 kilograms (238 lb)
Start of mission
Launch date Never launched
Rocket Falcon 1
Launch site Omelek Island
Contractor SpaceX
Orbital parameters
Reference system Geocentric
Regime Low Earth
Apogee 410 kilometers (250 mi)
Inclination 40& degrees
Epoch Planned

TacSat-1 is an experimental satellite built by the Naval Research Laboratory on behalf of the United States Department of Defense (DOD) Office of Force Transformation (OFT). The second satellite in the series, TacSat-2, has already been launched. It is the planned payload of the sixth launch of the SpaceX Falcon 1.[1]

TacSat-1 will carry a variety of experimental payloads.[2] Much of the payload software is implemented through the use of bash scripts operating on the "Copperfield-2" general-purpose computer system aboard the spacecraft.[3]


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-1 can collect color images sharp enough to distinguish ground objects as small as 1 meter in diameter.[4]


TacSat-1 was initially planned for launch in January 2004, but delays in Falcon 1 becoming operational precluded this date. It was initially scheduled to fly on the maiden flight of the Falcon 1, but technical problems led to another Falcon 1, with FalconSat-2, launching first. Following the failure of this launch, it was moved to the third flight, to allow a demonstration launch to precede it. The failure of the demonstration flight led to further delays. In August 2007, the Pentagon announced that the launch of TacSat-1 was canceled due to the completion of most of its mission requirements by AFRL's previously launched TacSat-2.[5] In September 2008, this decision was reversed, and it was reported that TacSat-1 would be launched by the sixth Falcon 1, in 2009.[1]


The TacSat series of satellites use commercial or available launchers, and largely off-the-shelf components, in order to reduce costs.


The TacSat-1 spacecraft is based on Orbital Sciences' MicroStar platform, also used for the Orbcomm communications constellation.



Apart from the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL), other organizations participating included:


  1. ^ a b Lindsey, Clark S. (2008-09-11). "Next Falcon I launch planned within 2 weeks". RLV and Space Transport News. HobbySpace. Retrieved 2008-09-13. 
  2. ^ "Tactical Microsatellite Experiment (TacSat-1)". NRL. 
  3. ^ "Rapid Satellite Payload Development for TacSat-1". NRL. 
  4. ^ Singer, Jeremy (2006-12-04). "USAF To Experiment With Satellite To Improve Ground Communications". Defense News. 
  5. ^ Berger, Brian (2007-09-06). "Pentagon Cancels TacSat-1 Mission". Space.com. Retrieved 2008-08-09. [dead link]