Friday, May 30, 2008

Air Force Picks ORS Jumpstart Payload

A SpaceDev, Inc. microsatellite was picked to ride a Falcon booster later next month in the first Operationally Responsive Space (ORS) "Jumpstart" mission, intended to demonstrate rapid test, integration, and launch of a spacecraft. The satellite is intended primarily as a risk reduction payload for the Trailblazer multi-purpose microsat bus, but also carries a suite of experiments.
As SpaceDev reports:

" Jumpstart is a multi-pronged effort set to fly a responsive payload on the SpaceX Falcon 1 Flight 003 mission, currently scheduled for a late June 2008 launch from Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands. The spacecraft was built and assembled on schedule and budget at SpaceDev’s Poway, California facility in less than five months. It has been delivered to the ORS Office at Kirtland Air Force Base in New Mexico for final testing and integration...This mission demonstrates the first step of responsive launch with an end-to-end call up within seven months of funding availability and within four months following approval to proceed. In addition, Jumpstart demonstrates several key ORS enabling models: rapid call up of a mission to launch; rapid development, integration and checkout of spacecraft; a concept of operations that allows flexibility late in the payload processing flow to determine which mission will fly; efficiencies in processes and procedures to reduce payload integration timelines; and identification and assurance of payload technical readiness."

COMMENT: It's a worthy effort and will be a step forward for ORS if they make it work. There will be some crossed fingers regarding the booster, which did not make it to orbit on its first two attempts. The schedule, while nothing unusual 45 years ago, is very tight in this era of multiple reviews and multi-month launch prep times, so here's hoping the folks at SpaceDev, ORS, AFRL, and SpaceX (the booster maker) can pull it off. Go Jumpstart!

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