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Nanosat Launcher Tests Commence in Florida

Pilot Rick Svetkoff sits in the cockpit of a Starfighters, Inc. F-104 supersonic jet before conducting a high speed taxi test at the Shuttle Landing Facility. Image credit: NASA/Gianni M. Woods

By Melanie Carlson
NASA’s John F. Kennedy Space Center

Plans to launch small satellites into orbit from the wings of a supersonic jet are moving along following a taxi test on the runway at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The Starfighters, Inc. F-104 rolled to a stop Oct. 27 at the Shuttle Landing Facility after the supersonic aircraft conducted a high-speed taxi test. Piloted by Rick Svetkoff, the F-104 reached speeds of 150 mph as it taxied up and down the runway. The test was carried out to evaluate a newly developed suborbital vehicle that has the potential to carry nanosatellites into low Earth orbit. Commercial carriers like Starfighters, Inc., want to provide a convenient, reasonably priced option for universities and scientific institutions to build and launch missions.


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