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Space and Missile Systems Center Public Affairs
/ Published June 30, 2021
MOJAVE AIR AND SPACE PORT, CA – The U.S. Space Force (USSF) Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC) and VOX Space, a US-incorporated, wholly-owned subsidiary to Virgin Orbit, successfully launched four Department of Defense (DoD) Research and Development (R&D) satellites on Virgin Orbit’s LauncherOne on June 30, 2021, from Mojave Air and Space Port, CA.
The mission, designated STP-27VPA, demonstrated commercially available solutions for placing USSF satellite capabilities on-orbit from a non-traditional location, thus providing flexibility and resiliency for the USSF and warfighter requirements in an increasingly contested environment.
The DoD Space Test Program (STP), under the USSF SMC, procured the mission in partnership with Defense Innovation Unit (DIU) as part of the Rapid Agile Launch Initiative (RALI). This initiative leveraged DIU’s Commercial Solutions Opening (CSO) process to competitively and rapidly award DoD launch service agreements with non-traditional, commercial venture-class companies. The launch was the first USSF mission to utilize VOX Space’s modified 747 aircraft, and the first VOX Space DoD space launch from Mojave Air and Space Port, CA. The mission delivered all satellites on board into a Low Earth Orbit (LEO).
“Congratulations to the VOX Space and SMC team on today’s successful demonstration, an important milestone in expanding space access,” said Col. Tim Sejba, program executive officer for Space Development Corps. “The success of our Rapid Agile Launch Initiative is a critical component in SMC’s pivot to a more resilient space enterprise.”
The DoD experimental satellites onboard the VOX Space launch include R&D missions sponsored by the United States Army Space and Missile Defense Command, the Naval Information Warfare Center Pacific, and the Missile Defense Agency. These experiments and demonstrations will advance multiple technologies related to CubeSat-based laser communications, localized space-based communication networks, radio frequency measurement technology, and autonomous maneuvering systems. All of these satellites will demonstrate advanced space technologies and accelerate the fielding of future space systems for U.S. Government Agencies and operational space capabilities for the USSF and DoD.
“We are very excited about today’s successful launch,” said Col. Carlos Quinones, director of the DoD Space Test Program. “Today the DoD Space Test Program and VOX Space met the congressional goal to procure a new DoD launch capability and agilely deliver R&D payloads to orbit.”
The DoD STP, located at Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico, SMC’s Space Development Corps procured and managed the STP-27VPA mission. STP drives experimental demonstrations of new capabilities and expedient space access solutions for research and development experiments that will enhance current operational capabilities, enable future military space systems, and reduce risk for future operational missions.
SMC, located at Los Angeles Air Force Base in El Segundo, Calif. is the U.S. Air Force's center of acquisition excellence for acquiring and developing military space systems. Its portfolio includes the development of advanced space and launch capability and systems, global positioning systems, military satellite communications, defense meteorological satellites, space launch and range systems, satellite control networks, space-based infrared systems, and space domain awareness.
More about STP: http://www.kirtland.af.mil/About-Us/Fact-Sheets/Display/Article/826059/space-test-program/
More about DIU: www.DIU.mil
More about Virgin Orbit: https://virginorbit.com/
More about VOX Space: https://voxspace.com/