SMC, NASA Deploy DoD’s STPSat-4 From ISS

Space Test Program Satellite-4 (STPSat-4) reaches its final orbit after deploying from the International Space Station, Jan. 28, 2020. (Credit: NASA)

LOS ANGELES AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. (USAF SMC PR) — The United States Space Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC) and its mission partner, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), successfully deployed the Department of Defense (DoD) Space Test Program Satellite-4 (STPSat‑4) from the International Space Station at 11:20 p.m., Jan. 28, 2020.   

The suitcase-sized satellite is a test-bed with five experimental payloads to study advanced spacecraft communications, navigation, power systems, as well as space weather and improved small-satellite tracking capability. The payloads were developed by both the Navy and the Air Force as well as DoD research and academic institutions along with industry partnership investment.

STPSat-4 is managed by SMC’s Innovation and Prototyping (I&P) Directorate, a unit that focuses on demonstrations of new space capabilities. SMC partners with NASA to enable cost-effective launch and space access for experiments that are mutually beneficial, relevant to both civil and defense space applications, and important for maintaining security in space. STPSat-4 was launched Nov. 2, 2019 aboard the Northrup-Grumman-12 (NG-12) Cygnus commercial resupply mission.

“This is a product of a collaborative effort across multiple military services with both industry and civil space partnerships,” said Col. Dennis Bythewood, program executive officer for space development. “SMC is committed to driving innovation and harnessing the synergy of partnerships.”

STPSat-4 will operate for at least one year in low earth orbit (LEO). An additional objective is to demonstrate the Commercial Air Force Satellite Control Network (AFSCN) Service’s (CAS) ability to support a 24/7 operational mission. CAS is the only ground system being used by STPSat-4 and part of SMC’s continuing commitment to leverage the most innovative technologies to deliver cost-effective space capabilities.

“STPSat-4 is yet another remarkable achievement for the entire team,” said Col. Timothy Sejba, director of SMC’s I&P Directorate. “This mission will advance civil and military objectives by demonstrating next-generation space technologies. It’s a perfect example of how we continue to lean forward to bring exciting space capabilities to the DoD and our mission partners.”

SMC, located at Los Angeles Air Force Base in El Segundo, California, is the U.S. Space Force’s center of acquisition excellence for acquiring and developing military space systems. Its portfolio includes the development of advanced space and launch capability and systems, global positioning systems, military satellite communications, defense meteorological satellites, space launch and range systems, satellite control networks, space-based infrared systems, and space situational awareness capabilities.