Small experimental satellites created by Aerospace Corp for USAF and cubesats created for National Reconnaissance Office research projects were onboard the recent cargo resupply mission of Northrop Grumman Antares rocket that will go to International Space Station on 2nd November. In the NG-12 Cygnus Mission along with few other projects, two similar shoebox sized cubesats of Air Force called Rogue Alpha and Rogue Beta are being encapsulated.
The capsule will connect with International Space Station and remain there until they are sent into their operating orbit in early part of 2020, said the Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC) of Air Force. The Rogue cubesats will collate data for supporting satellite development plans in future said the department. They will also be used for testing rapid prototyping technologies as USAF is trying to reduce the timeline for making satellites that will become part of an extensive LEO or low earth orbit constellation.
Both the Rogue satellites were constructed and tested by non-profit firm Aerospace Corp which operates as a federal funded R&D center. To cut down the schedule of production and development to just 18 months SMC stated that their design uses sensors along with commercial components that can be purchased directly from shelves. The cubesats contain high-speed laser communication systems to enable download of large image files. As per details shared by SMC, these satellites will provide data for recently launched sort –wave infrared band satellites.
They are also expected to collect data about background of clouds and pass on the information to future LEO missions. Program executive for space development Col Dennis Bythewood stated that this mission also includes two National Reconnaissance Office research cubesats which are part of IMPACT NRO program and will provide the agency with required data for future space development programs. The NRO elaborated that four more experiments will be launched onboard the NG-12 as part of its Greenlighting program.