[Via Satellite 10-09-2015] United Launch Alliance (ULA) orbited a defense satellite for the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) along with 13 CubeSats on Oct. 8 using an Atlas 5 rocket. The 13 Government Rideshare Advanced Concepts Experiment (GRACE) CubeSats are comprised of nine NRO-sponsored CubeSats and four NASA-sponsored CubeSats. Manufacturers of the CubeSats consist of The Aerospace Corporation, the Army’s Space and Missile Defense Center, Tyvak, SRI International, the University of Alaska-Fairbanks, Salish Kootenai College, AMSAT and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Each CubeSat weighs 1 to 5 kilograms.
“The GRACE CubeSats will perform missions demonstrating tracking technologies, software-defined radio communications and will also conduct other measurements and experiments,” said Jim Sponnick, VP of Atlas and Delta programs at ULA. “We are happy that ULA could play a part in bringing these nano-satellites to orbit along with the NRO payload through a cost-effective rideshare.” The NROL-55 mission is ULA’s 10th launch in 2015.
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