Main Engine Cut Off

Air Force Research Lab Small Sat Hitching a Ride to GEO

Jeff Foust, for SpaceNews:

Spaceflight, the Seattle-based company that brokers rideshare launch services, confirmed in a Feb. 11 statement that it will be flying the S5 satellite for the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) as a secondary payload on the Falcon 9 launch of the PSN-6, or Nusantara Satu, communications satellite built by Space Systems Loral, a division of Maxar Technologies, for Indonesian company PT Pasifik Satelit Nusantara.

The S5 satellite will be attached not to the rocket’s upper stage or payload adapter but instead to the Nusantara Satu satellite itself, Spaceflight explained in its statement. “Before the telecommunications satellite reaches its final GEO position, it will separate the S5 spacecraft which will then turn on and start its mission,” Spaceflight said.

This is a pretty unique situation—a satellite for the Air Force Research Lab riding on a commercial Indonesian satellite all the way to (near) geostationary orbit.