“A year ago I challenged our acquisition organization to develop a capability in tactical timelines, integrate it onto a launch vehicle and launch it, and let’s see how fast we can do it,” Raymond said on a webcast event hosted by the Council on Foreign Relations. He said the satellite was built by a secretive organization called “Space Safari” modeled after the Air Force’s Big Safari program started during the Cold War for special-mission aircraft.
“In less than a year they took satellite components off the shelf, married them up with a satellite bus that was off the shelf, and put them together in a space domain awareness satellite,” said Raymond. The launch was awarded to Northrop Grumman under the Orbital Services Program-4.
Satellite tracker Marco Langbroek said on Twitter that the lineup of the hazard areas provided in navigational warnings suggest the satellite is being deployed to a polar and likely sun-synchronous orbit. TacRL-2 will be air-launched on a solid-fueled Pegasus XL rocket released from a Lockheed L-1011 TriStar carrier aircraft. The mission will fly from Vandenberg Space Force Base, California. According to SpaceFlightNow.com the $28 million contract to Northrop Grumman was awarded last July but first disclosed in March.
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