The U.S. Space Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC) and its mission partners successfully deployed Aerospace Rogue Alpha and Rogue Beta CubeSats.
The twin CubeSats were deployed from the Northrop Grumman Cygnus capsule at 1 p.m. and 4:10 p.m. respectively on Jan. 31.
The mission, designated NG-12, started with the on-time launch of an upgraded Northrop Grumman Innovation Systems Antares 230+ rocket from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport’s Pad 0A at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia at 9:59 a.m. EDT on Nov. 2, 2019. The Cygnus resupply spacecraft named S.S. Alan Bean, which carried the Aerospace Cubesats to orbit, was then grappled by the Canadarm 2 robotic arm of the International Space Station (ISS) and berthed to the space station’s Unity module. The CubeSats remained there until this deployment.
The deployment of the satellites marks the beginning of the program’s mission experiment plan, where the two satellites will use their short-wave infrared (SWIR) sensors to create a baseline for processing cloud backgrounds and inform future low Earth orbit (LEO) satellites. The U.S. Air Force will also utilize this program’s unclassified data to investigate potential uses of the capability.
“The Space and Missile Systems Center is proud of this team’s accomplishments and the speed at which this program developed,” said Col. Dennis Bythewood, Program Executive Officer for Space Development.
The CubeSats were designed, built, and tested by The Aerospace Corporation, a national nonprofit corporation that operates as a federally funded research and development center dedicated to advancing the nation’s missions in space.
“Aerospace is proud to present its Rogue CubeSats to support the Space Force’s mission of achieving a secure and resilient space architecture,” said Jeff Emdee, general manager of the Space Development Division at The Aerospace Corporation. “Each three-unit CubeSat is about the size of a shoe box and contains both visible and infrared sensing, as well as a laser communications downlink, that will allow us to explore operations in low earth orbit to benefit future system concepts.”