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1st SOPS ops accepts ORS-5


Pictured is a graphic representation of the Operationally Responsive Space-5 satellite system, which initiated operations May 31, 2018. ORS-5 furthers the 50th Space Wing’s mission by delivering global, persistent, optical tracking of satellites in geosynchronous orbit. (Courtesy graphic)


The ORS-5 launches aboard a Minotaur IV rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, Aug. 26, 2017. After a rapid concept to operational acceptance period of four years, ORS-5 initiated operations May 31, 2018, providing increased space situational awareness for the U.S. military. (Courtesy photo)


The 1st Space Operations Squadron accepted operational control of the Operationally Responsive Space-5 satellite system through United States Strategic Command during a ceremony at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado, May 31.

“It’s been a lot of work, but it’s a significant accomplishment to see the satellite become fully operational,” said Lt. Col. Mark Bigley, commander of the 1st SOPS. “This significantly increases our space situational awareness.”

The ORS-5 furthers the 50th Space Wing’s mission by delivering global, persistent, optical tracking of satellites in geosynchronous orbit.

“This enables a whole new level of continuous space situational awareness to ensure all 50th SW and United States geosynchronous assets remain secure, aiding our defense capabilities,” said Capt. John Cantu, systems integration planner and ORS-5 team member with 1st SOPS.

Members of the 14th Air Force, 1st and 7th SOPS, the Space and Missile Systems Center’s Space Rapid Capabilities Office, the 18th Space Control Squadron and National Air and Space Intelligence Center supported getting the satellite into operational status, playing a role in ensuring the satellite functions properly and confirming the accuracy and quality of data ORS-5 transmitted.

“We made sure our crews were ready for ops acceptance,” Cantu said. “We also worked with these agencies closely to ensure there were no critical issues, performed acquisitions and other essential duties.”

Bigley said the rapid four-year concept-to-operations acceptance timeframe easily meets the SpRCO’s intent of “delivering capabilities to the warfighter in operationally relevant time frames,” - an accomplishment of its own.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology Lincoln Laboratory-built ORS-5 satellite is one of three low-Earth orbit satellites that 1st SOPS commands. Its services of scanning the geosynchronous-orbit belt assists a region that is home to critical U.S. communications. ORS-5 was launched August 26, 2017 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida.

ORS-5’s operations impact both U.S. allies and adversaries, strengthening U.S. space defense.

“By increasing the amount of sensor coverage, we are able to cover and defend more aspects of the 50th Space Wing’s mission,” Bigley said.

Cantu added ORS-5 is a milestone for 1st SOPS and satellite operations in general.

“I’m excited,” he said. “This is a whole new level of awareness, giving us near-constant surveillance and enabling new defensive tactics and techniques.”

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