Milstar (Military Strategic and Tactical Relay satellite)
The operational Milstar satellite constellation consists of five satellites positioned around the Earth in geosynchronous orbits. Each mid-latitude satellite weighs approximately 10,000 pounds (4,536 kilograms) and has a design life of 10 years. Until recently, the program was plagued with fiscal and technical problems.
The first and second Milstar 1 satellites were launched in 1994-95. However, the first of a new generation of Milstar satellites was placed in a useless orbit because of a flight software error in its Centaur upper stage during launch on April 30, 1999. With the satellite costing about $800 million, and the launcher a further $433 million, this is believed to be the most expensive unmanned loss in the history of Cape Canaveral launch operations. The second, third, and fourth Milstar 2 satellites were, however, successfully delivered into their intended orbits, on February 27, 2001, January 15, 2002, and April 8, 2003, respectively, by Delta-4(01)B Centaur T launch vehicles.
The Milstar system is composed of three segments: space (the satellites), terminal (the users) and mission control. Air Force Space Command's Space and Missile Systems Center at Los Angeles Air Force Base, Calif., developed the Milstar space and mission control segments. The Electronics Systems Center at Hanscom AFB, Mass., developed the Air Force portion of the terminal segment. The 4th Space Operations Squadron at Schriever AFB, Colorado, is the front-line organization providing real-time satellite platform control and communications payload management.
Related categories MILITARY RECONNAISSANCE AND SURVEILLANCE
SATELLITES AND SPACE PROBES
Source: U.S. Air Force
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