NASA Wallops position to launch military satellite into orbit
The Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport will be the launch site later this spring for a Minotaur rocket carrying into orbit ORS-1, a military observation satellite that is the first operationally reactive space satellite designed to support combat operations. Some 50 tourism representatives from three states were brief at Wright's Restaurant in Atlantic about the Department of Defense mission. This will be the 4th Minotaur rocket launched from Wallops. The launch will occur in May or June, Valerie Skarupa, chief of policy and strategic communications for the Department of Defense's operationally reactive Space Office, said. The correct date has not yet been set, according to NASA Wallops Flight Facility spokesman Keith Kohler.

The Operationally Responsive Space office, located at Kirtland Air Force Base, was authorization by the President and Congress and created in May 2007 to focus on meeting joint force commanders' wants quickly and flexibly. "The way we had addressed threats had changed," Skarupa said, addition the objective now is "to be more agile and resilient," including a shift to using lesser satellites with shorter lifespans and to a "plug-and-play" type modular open systems approach to given that communications and imaging satellites for military use with the eventual goal being to be capable to assemble and launch a satellite within days to weeks.

Skarupa, who was involved in the last two military launches from Wallops, praised the ability as "accurate and fast" and said the inclination angle for launches from Wallops "is perfect for the wars we have going on today." Skarupa also called the TacSat-3 satellite launched from Wallops in May 2009 "a enormous success," noting that the research and development satellite went into use for real operations in 2010. Julie Mears, marketing communications director for Goodrich ISR Systems, the British company that built ORS-1 in Danbury, Ct., also spoke at the tourism meeting, as did Vicki Cox, senior communications manager for ATK Aerospace Systems, which construct the modular bus for the ORS-1 payload in Beltsville, Md. The company also construct the bus for TacSat-3.

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