September 28, 2011
Department Of Defense Launches New Satellite Out Of Alaska
The Department of Defense said on Tuesday that a rocket launched from an Alaska island carrying an experimental Navy communications satellite.
Peter Wegner, the agency's director of the Operationally Responsive Space Office, said the satellite will allow troops with radios to communicate without the need to position antennas in dangerous settings.
The rocket was launched from the state-owned Kodiak Launch Complex for the Naval Research Laboratory project. Wegner said the project will be assessed after that period to determine if it should become a permanent system.
"With this system you can stay in a covered area and pull out your radio and communicate with headquarters," he said in a statement. "It really is, I think, a huge potential life saver."
The TacSat-4 will have an oval orbit to help it give longer periods of communications coverage in areas like the Middle East.
"TacSat-4 supports a critical warfighting requirement: communication," Chief of Naval Research Rear Adm. Nevin Carr said in a press release. "We've developed a technology that will supplement traditional satellites, giving military personnel on the ground another outlet for data transmission and facilitating 'comms on the move'."
Wegner said the $190 million project is designed to circle the Earth three times a day.
The launch complex is located about 275 miles southwest of Anchorage and is operated by the Alaska Aerospace Corporation.
Image Caption: A less expensive, small-sat class system satellite with newer and more flexible technologies, TacSat-4's highly elliptical orbit augments existing geosynchronous satellites by providing near continuous communications to forward deployed forces in the high latitudes. Credit: US Naval Research Laboratory
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