November 10, 2017

AF awards contract for new rideshare capability on Space Launch missions

The Space and Missile Systems Center has awarded the Long Duration Propulsive Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle Secondary Payload Adapters procurement contract to Orbital Sciences Corp., Space Systems Division for $33,982,424. 

The LDPE contract requires an EELV-compatible payload adapter with power, attitude control and propulsive capabilities, integration services for Government furnished payloads, and one year of early orbit checkout and operations.  The contract includes options for two additional LDPE systems that would be manifested on future AFSPC missions.

“With the LDPE program, we are not only increasing the number of rideshare opportunities for secondary satellite payloads, but we are also taking it to the next level by providing a flexible payload adapter alternative for rideshare payloads to utilize,” said Col. John Anttonen, SMC’s Advanced Systems and Development Director. 

This SMC initiative responds to the Air Force Space Command standard service policy that requires rideshare services on launch missions when feasible.  The foundational technology for the LDPE is the EELV Secondary Payload Adapters, or ESPA, which is an Air Force Research Laboratory initiative to host additional secondary payloads on primary spacecraft launch missions.  The core technology for this capability is the ESPA, a ring payload adapter designed to support a primary payload and host small satellites attached to six ports.  Launch missions have carried an ESPA several times beginning with the Space Test Program-1 mission in 2007.

SMC, located at Los Angeles Air Force Base in El Segundo, Calif., is the U.S. Air Force’s Center of Acquisition Excellence for acquiring and developing military space systems. Its portfolio includes the Global Positioning System, military satellite communications, defense meteorological satellites, space launch and range systems, satellite control networks, space based infrared systems and space situational awareness capabilities.

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