Falcon 9’s secondary payload will be an Air Force small satellite


In addition to a private communications satellite and a lunar lander, the Falcon 9 rocket carrying a secondary payload for the US Air Force would likely also carry a small experimental satellite for testing situational awareness in space. This will be the S5 satellite, manufactured by the Air Force Research Laboratory, and the PSN-6 communications satellite, built by PT Pasifik Satelit Nusantara in Seattle, according to Seattle-based Spaceflight, which provides space rideshare launch services. The launch will take place at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on February 21.

The Beresheet Lander created by SpaceIL will also be on board the Falcon 9 as a secondary payload. Over the course of two months, this lander will be released into geostationary orbit and progressively steered toward the moon’s orbit. Two small satellites will be built by Blue Canyon Technologies for the American Aerospace Defense Command (AFRL) under a contract awarded in 2017. Applied Defense Solutions secured an offer from the Air Force in 2017 for a 60 kilogramme S5 satellite for space situational awareness.

Using a compact, low-cost space sensor will be demonstrated if this spacecraft succeeds in its mission. This project makes use of a 30-centimeter telescope, comparable to the Space Based Surveillance System of the Pathfinder satellite, which monitors objects near the geosynchronous belt. This project’s collaborators included Blue Canyon. Nusantara Satu Satellite will host the S5 satellite until it reaches GEO, at which point the S5 satellite will begin its own mission. Thereafter, future missions to carry payloads in this orbit and beyond will be pursued by Spaceflight as a result of this maiden mission.

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