Now that these satellites have been launched successfully, they also appear in the zarya.info list of satellites in orbit
A Minotaur 1 rocket is due to orbit a number of satellites from Wallops Island. This is the manifest. The assistance of ORS is gratefully acknowledged in making partial sense of the numerous fragmented and conflicting lists lying around the Internet, as is the help given by others involved in individual payloads. Unfortunately, some confusion still exists:
A manifest provided by ORS lists a total of twenty one satellites – STPSat 3 and twenty Cubesats.
ORS lists a single Prometheus satellite with a hint that there additional ones. The fact that Prometheus is 1.5U in size points to it not being alone because at least one other 1.5U satellite would be needed to make efficient use of a standard 3U Cubesat dispenser. Multiple sources on the web mention four Prometheus satellites and associate them with Special Operations Command (SOCOM), a joint command unit of the US Department of Defense. The list below assumes four Prometheus satellites occupying 6U of space in (probably) two containers.
There is a shortfall of five when compared with twenty eight Cubesats described in the press release from Orbital. Information provided by a source ‘in the know’ confirms that a further five payloads need to be added to the ORS list. Towards the bottom of the page there is a section speculating on the identity of the missing items.
Of the known Cubesats, thirteen are NASA’s ELaNa 4 (Educational Launch of Nanosatellites) package and they occupy 15U of rack space spread across five Cubesat launchers.
The ORS package amounts to ten Cubesats occupying 24U of rack space in eight Cubesat launchers (to which the missing five Cubesats have to be added).
There are two of what ORS describes as “non separating” payloads that will remain attached to Minotaur rocket stage(s).
Developed under the Space Test Program, it carries five separate packages of instruments and a passive aero-drag sytem, similar to one on the Minotaur upper stage, that will drop it from orbit at the end ot its life (up to 25 years). The following descriptions were provided by Ball Aerospace, the satellite manufacturer and are printed verbatim:
iMESA-R (Integrated Miniaturized Electrostatic Analyzer Reflight), a U.S. Air Force Academy mission designed to measure plasma densities and energies,
J-CORE (Joint Component Research), a space phenomenology mission sponsored by the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) /EO Countermeasures Technology Branch (RYMW) & Army Space and Missile Defense Command (SMDC),
SSU (Strip Sensor Unit), an AFRL Directed Energy (RD) experiment to provide risk reduction through on-orbit testing and operation of a sensor assembly,
SWATS (Small Wind and Temperature Spectrometer), a Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) mission to provide in-situ measurements of the neutral and plasma environment to characterize the Earth’s ionosphere and thermosphere,
TCTE (TSI Calibration Transfer Experiment), a NASA/NOAA mission to collect high accuracy, high precision measurements of Total Solar Irradiance to monitor changes in solar irradiance incident at the top the Earth’s atmosphere with TCTE instrument provided by the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics.
NASA ELaNa 4 Cubesats
Ho`oponopono 2 – 3U cubesat developed by students of the University of Hawaii, Honolulu, and developed in co-operation with the USAF. Its purpose is to continue the radar calibration missions of RadCal (1993-041A/22698) and a package aboard USA-147/DMSP F-15 (1999-067A/25991).
KySat 2 – 1U Cubesat designed, built, and tested by students of the University of Kentucky and Morehead State University, it allows students to receive data and telemetry and upload audio and text files for download by students at other schools. Students can also download (extremely) low resolution images taken by the satellite’s imaging system and “command” the satellite. It replaces KySat 1 that was lost in the failed NASA Glory launch during 2011.
DragonSat-1 – 1U cubesat from Drexel Space Systems Laboratory of Drexel University carrying an Earth-imaging camera, a magnetometer, an accelerometer and seven temperature sensors. It will also test a gravity-gradient boom.
NPS-SCAT (Naval Post-graduate School – Solar Cell Array Tester) – 1U Cubesat testing solar cells and measuring how they degrade over time in the space environment.
Trailblazer – 1U Cubesat from University of New Mexico and providing proof-of-concept for an Air Force Sponsored bus technology called Space Plug-and-play Architecture (SPA). Also studying space weather with a radiation dosimeter.
ChargerSat-1 – 1U Cubesat built by Huntsville students, equipped with a gravity-gradient stabilisation boom and carrying out communications and solar cell tests.
PhoneSat 2.4 – 1U cubesat based on a Nexus telephone with Google operating system. It will take Earth images. As an addition to the PhoneSat-1 design, it can accept commands and is equipped with solar cells. Three earlier Phonesats were carried on the Cygnus test mission of 2011 Apr 21 (2013-016A, 2013-016C & 2013-016E)
Lunar Orbiter/Lander CubeSat – 1U cubesat, testing software and an imager for an eventual lunar orbiter/lander cubesat that will be sent to the Moon via a launch to geosynchronous orbit – from Vermont Technical College and the University of Vermont.
COPPER (Close Orbit Propulsion Plume and Elemental Recognition – Cube) – 1U cubesat from Parks College of Engineering, Aviation & Technology of St Louis University, to be used for infrared imaging.
Black Knight-1 – 1U Cubesat built by students at the West Point Academy to test a two-axis, passive, attitude control system and an Earth imaging camera.
SwampSat – 1U Cubesat developed by students at the University of Florida in Gainesville, FL, it is equipped with gyroscopes to demonstrate rapid and precise three axis attitude control.
CAPE-2 – 1U cubesat (Cajun Advanced Picosatellite Experiment) from The University of Louisiana at Lafayette, demonstrating satellite technology including stabilisation using the Earth’s magnetic field. CAPE-1 was launched 2007.
TJ³Sat – 1U cubesat from Thomas Jefferson High School of Alexandria, Virginia that will be used as a broadcast satellite at amateur frequencies, using a phonetic voice synthesizer that converts strings of text to voice.
A further package of Cubesats is being carried as a USAF-sponsored payload cluster. The list below omits five payloads that are awaiting disclosure:
SENSE SV1 (Space Environmental NanoSat Experiment) – 3U Cubesat – equipped with star cameras for attitude determination, carrying CTECS (Compact Total Electron Density Sensor) for ionospheric measurements and experiments, and CTIP (Cubesat Tiny Ionospheric Photometer) to monitor photons produced by the recombination of positive oxygen ions and electrons. Its purpose is to assess the use of small satellites to monitor space weather.
SENSE SV2 (Space Environmental NanoSat Experiment) – 3U Cubesat – equipped with star cameras for attitude determination, carrying CTECS (Compact Total Electron Density Sensor) for ionospheric measurements and experiments and WINCS (Wind Ion Neutral Composite Suite) to measure atmospheric and ionospheric density, composition, temperature and movement. Its purpose is to assess the use of small satellites to monitor space weather.
Prometheus 1 – 1.5U Cubesat from the Los Alamos National Laboratory, payload unspecified but assessing the operational effectiveness of a constellation of Cubesats for tactical communications by SOCOM forces in the field.
Prometheus 2 – as Prometheus 1.
Prometheus 3 – as Prometheus 1.
Prometheus 4 – as Prometheus 1.
ORSES (ORS Enabler Satellite) – 3U Cubesat – collaboration between ORS and Space and Missile Defense Command (SMDC) to provide communications and data for underserved tactical users. Based on the SMDC-ONE satellite (2012-048B/38759) but upgraded with a Software Defined Radio (Vulcan Wireless) and an NSA Type-I encryption (Raytheon) Gryphon device.
Horus/STARE (Space-based Telescope for Actionable Refinement of Ephemeris) – 3U Cubesat provided by the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory for the National Reconnaissance Office, equipped with optical sensors to detect orbiting payloads & debris for orbit measurement. Held over from the USA 238 launch that carried its partner satellite – Re (2012-048A/38758).
ORS Tech 1 – 3U Cubesat – unspecified payload from Johns Hopkins University being used to assess a multi-mission satellite bus.
Firefly – 3U Cubesat to explore the relationship between lightning and Terrestrial Gamma Ray Flashes (TGFs). The mission will involve students Students at Siena College in Loudonville NY, and at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore in Princess Anne MD.
One payload will remain attached to the Minotaur upper stage once in orbit:
SoM/DoM – a passive aero-drag de-orbit system in the form of a large, flat panel to accelerate orbital decay. It similar to the one aboard STPSat 3. It was developed under the Space Test Program and is designed to bring a satellite back into the atmosphere at the end of its life.
The Minotaur rocket will also carry a system to monitor its own ascent but it is not obvious which launch vehicle stage carries it:
AFSS (Autonomous Flight Safety System) – a demonstration system for use during the ascent phase of the launch that uses on-board tracking and processing to terminate an errant launch vehicle.
The Missing Five
Everything below is speculative but based on information that can be readily trawled from the Web.
One missing Cubesat may be a further ORS Tech vehicle. Where payload lists can be found on the web, they agree generally with what is in the rest of this Blog entry. They include too many ELANa 4 payloads because there were initially some reserves and the list was whittled down. In listings of the ORS payloads there are two 3U ORS Tech satellites, pointing to the possibility of one of them being omitted from the current list from ORS.
As to the other four, a review of the Cubesat complement of the SpaceX Dragon mission in 2010 November provides some clues. It carried four satellites named Perseus. Initially they were only associated with the Los Alamos National Laboratory, where they were built, but later it was revealed that they were used by SOCOM for communications experiments.
Earlier in the year a journalist, Noah Shachtman, wrote that there are eight SOCOM payloads aboard the ORS 3 launch. In the list above there are only four Prometheus satellites.
One feature of the listings for ORS 3 (example here) is that the Prometheus satellites are shown as 3U in size where the 2010 Perseus Cubesats, and the genuine Prometheus, are 1.5U. However, again from 2010, descriptions of Perseus referred to two pairs of satellites. The older listings with four Prometheus satellites as 3U articles may be pointing to pairs of 1.5U Cubesats, in which case there are eight Prometheus Cubesats in the ORS 3 package – four more than listed above.
Together with an extra ORS Tech satellite, that would bring the ORS 3 complement of Cubesats to the required twenty eight.