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The Research Range Services (RRS) Program supported the Operationally Responsive Space-1 (ORS-1) launch from Pad 0B June 29, 2011, aboard a Minotaur-I vehicle. This successful mission was the fourth Minotaur to leave the shores of the Research Range in the past four years. With this mission, RRS continued its collaboration with the U.S. Air Force and Orbital Sciences Corporation.

ORS-1 is the first satellite in the Department of Defense’s Operationally Responsive Space program designed to support Combatant Command operations as a directly tasked surveillance satellite. The mission focused on the quick deployment of a small satellite with innovative sensor technologies to provide real-time support to commanders in the battlefield. It incorporates a modified version of the SYERS-2 optical sensor used in the U-2 aircraft.

The RRS Program employed all available range support assets to support this mission including radar, telemetry, optical, meteorological, command and control, communications, surveillance and other services. This included a deployment to Coquina, N.C., with mobile radar, telemetry and command assets. The remote configuration was necessary at this location to acquire and relay realtime data from the launch vehicle during the second- and third-stage rocket burn while the primary assets at Wallops were attenuated by plume exhaust. Additionally, RRS coordinated with the Eastern Range to utilize the Air Force telemetry assets in Antigua to deliver real-time data.

Mission success for this operation focused on weather and meteorological operations and the Range’s ability to handle weatherdriven events. Weather and meteorology services dealt admirably with very difficult weather conditions. They were able to clearly predict conditions at the pad during the first launch attempt with a powerful electrical storm approaching, thus allowing a scrub to be declared early enough for critical stand-down actions to occur before inclement weather entered the area. The storm caused equipment failures throughout the Range, including electrical damage to communication systems, the timing system, optical sensors and multiple radar systems. Despite this, RRS brought all systems back on line during pre-mission setup and the following day’s countdown proceeded nominally for all Range instrumentation.

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