Sunday, November 25, 2007

ANGELS microsatellite program advances

Press release from Orbital Sciences:

"Orbital Awarded $29.5 Million Contract For ANGELS Satellite Program By Air Force Research Laboratory
– Orbital Sciences Corporation ...announced it has been selected by the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory’s (AFRL) Space Vehicles Directorate, Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M., for a $29.5 million contract to support the execution of the Autonomous Nanosatellite Guardian for Evaluating Local Space satellite program. The ANGELS program supports the continued initiatives of AFRL’s Space Vehicle Directorate to develop innovative nanosatellite technologies capable of independently providing localized space situational awareness.

COMMENT: The program has morphed from a very innovative idea (tiny nanosatellites flying "escort" for large, expensive spacecraft) to a slightly less challenging, though still valuable one, with 50-70kg satellites providing space situational awareness (SSA). According to AFRL, the original idea was simply too difficult with current technology. OTHER COMMENT: This is not, and has never been, a weapons program. I throw this comment in a lot when reporting on military microsatellite development because the Center for Defense Information, a private group that gets quoted in the press a lot, routinely paints all such efforts as being efforts by the US to "weaponize space."

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