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  • Satellite Evolution

Space Systems Command launches first NSSL mission fo US Space Force


Space Systems Command and its US Space Force (USSF)-44 mission partners successfully launched the Long Duration Propulsive EELV (Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle) Secondary Payload Adapter (ESPA), or LDPE-2 and Shepherd Demonstration mission on the first National Security Space Launch (NSSL) aboard SpaceX's Falcon Heavy rocket at 9:41 a.m. EDT (6:41 a.m. PDT) Nov. 1 from Launch Complex LC-39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, Florida.


The LDPE-2 space vehicle will deliver six payloads that advance communications, space weather sensing and other technologies into near-geosynchronous orbits. Multiple commercial and government partners worked together to ensure the success of this multifaceted and important mission.


The Shepherd Demonstration is designed to test new technologies to enhance safe and responsible rendezvous and proximity operations. It will accelerate risk reduction efforts to inform future Programs of Record.


"This was our first National Security Space Launch on a Falcon Heavy, and it was simply outstanding," said Brig. Gen. Stephen Purdy, Program Executive Officer for Assured Access to Space. "Our mission brought together several teams on the payload side, Assured Access to Space, and SpaceX. Everyone worked so well together preparing for the launch and that dedication paid off with our 95th consecutive successful NSSL mission. We should all be proud of this combined team and their drive and focus on mission success in delivering these satellites to orbit. Adding to the nation's on-orbit capability is absolutely critical in staying ahead of the threats posed by our very active foreign adversaries."


"We envision the LDPE program as a 'freight train to space'," said Brig. Gen. Tim Sejba, Program Executive Officer for Space Domain Awareness and Combat Power at Space Systems Command. "This capability provides our mission partners with frequent and low-cost access to orbit to accelerate technology insertion into new space architectures."


The USSF-44 launch was the first SpaceX Falcon Heavy in over three years, the last being the Space Test Program (STP)-2 mission in June 2019.


"A launch of this magnitude does not come easy; success comes as a result of dedicated teams, committed to working together applying well-defined, proven and efficient processes," said Dr. Walter Lauderdale, Space Systems Command's Chief of Falcon Systems & Operations and USSF-44 Mission Director. "I'm extremely proud of everyone on the team and look forward to our next challenge ... we have a busy manifest in front of us, and each launch delivers another important capability for our nation and its allies."


Space Systems Command is the US Space Force field command responsible for rapidly developing, acquiring, equipping, fielding and sustaining lethal and resilient space capabilities. SSC mission capability areas include launch acquisition and operations, communications and positioning, navigation and timing (PNT), space sensing, battle management command, control and communications (BMC3), and space domain awareness & combat power.

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