U.S. Air Force’s ORS-5/SensorSat Satellite to Reach Full Operational Capability Later This Year

The U.S. Air Force (USAF)’s Operationally Responsive Space (ORS)-5 satellite, also known as SensorSat, will reach Full Operational Capability declaration later this year.

ORS-5 was launched on Aug. 26, 2017, abroad an Orbital ATK Minotaur IV rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. It reached Operational Acceptance and Initial Operational Capability (IOC) on May 31, 2018.

The satellite detects, tracks and catalogs man-made objects orbiting Earth such as active and inactive satellites, spent rocket parts and fragmentation debris, informing military, civil and commercial space operators if tracked objects may interfere with the satellites on orbit. It will act as a gap filler for the SBSS (Space Based Space Surveillance) Block 10 satellite.

Data obtained from ORS-5 is also used in predicting when and where decaying space objects are located and where they may re-enter the Earth’s atmosphere.

The satellite, which weighs 140 kg, is operated from a low inclination orbit of 500-700 km height to observe satellites in the geostationary belt.

ORS-5 is part of the U.S.’s Space Surveillance Network, which is the responsibility of the Combined Space Force Component Command (CFSCC) through the Air Force Space Command’s 18th Space Control Squadron.

The ORS-5 development team is comprised of the Air Force’s Operationally Responsive Space (ORS) Office, the precursor organization to the Space Rapid Capabilities Office (SpRCO), and AFSPC Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC)’s Directorate of Special Programs (DirSP). SMC partnered with Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Lincoln Laboratory (MIT/Lincoln Labs) for the development of the satellite.



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