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Space Systems Command launches USSF-8 mission for US Space Force

January 25, 2022  - By

Space Systems Command, together with United Launch Alliance and other mission partners, successfully placed the fifth and sixth Northrop Grumman-built Geosynchronous Space Situational Awareness Program (GSSAP)-5/-6 satellites into orbit for the U.S. Space Force, after an on-time launch aboard an Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex (SLC)-41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Florida, at 2 p.m. EST (11 a.m. PST).

“The evolving threat to our space environment requires new levels of resiliency and survivability, autonomy and automation, and unprecedented levels of integration and networking,” said Lt. Gen. Michael A. Guetlein, commander of Space Systems Command. “Today’s successful launch will enhance our capabilities in space domain awareness and our space-based space domain awareness architecture. Congratulations to the USSF-8 integrated team and all mission partners on a successful launch.”

The GSSAP-5/-6 satellites join a constellation supporting U.S. Space Command’s space surveillance operations as a dedicated Space Surveillance Network sensor.

GSSAP also supports the Combined Force Space Component Command by collecting space domain awareness data, allowing for more accurate tracking and characterization of manmade orbiting objects. GSSAP is led by SSC’s Special Programs directorate.

The National Security Space Launch (NSSL) mission launched aboard ULA’s Atlas V in the “511” configuration, which was comprised of a five-meter diameter payload fairing from RUAG Space, a single Graphite Epoxy Motor (GEM)-63 solid rocket booster from Northrop Grumman, and a single RL-10 engine from Aerojet Rocketdyne on the Centaur upper stage.

SSC’s Launch Enterprise acquired the launch service through ULA and was responsible for successfully placing the GSSAP satellites on orbit.

The NSSL program provides assured access for the United States’s critical warfighting space assets, and this launch vehicle has reliably placed valuable assets into their intended orbits repeatedly, adding to the NSSL program’s success record of 88 consecutive launches. The program supports a full range of government mission requirements for the nation’s defense and intelligence sectors.

Space Systems Command is the U.S. Space Force field command responsible for rapidly identifying, prototyping and fielding resilient space capabilities for joint warfighters. SSC delivers sustainable joint space warfighting capabilities to defend the nation and its allies while disrupting adversaries in the contested space domain. SSC mission areas include launch acquisition and operations; space domain awareness; positioning, navigation and timing; missile warning; satellite communication; and cross-mission ground, command and control and data.

A ULA Atlas V rocket carried the USSF-8 mission for the U.S. Space Force into orbit, (Photo: ULA)

A ULA Atlas V rocket carried the USSF-8 mission for the U.S. Space Force into orbit, (Photo: ULA)

About the Author: Tracy Cozzens

Senior Editor Tracy Cozzens joined GPS World magazine in 2006. She also is editor of GPS World’s newsletters and the sister website Geospatial Solutions. She has worked in government, for non-profits, and in corporate communications, editing a variety of publications for audiences ranging from federal government contractors to teachers.

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