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NRL launches TacSat-4 communication satellite for US Navy

The US Naval Research Laboratory's TacSat-4 launches from the Kodiak Launch Complex on a Minotaur-4 rocket. Photo: US Navy.

ALASKA (BNS): A Minotaur IV rocket has successfully launched an experimental satellite for the US Navy which is designed to provide safe combat communications to troops.

The Tactical Satellite-4 (TacSat-4), built by the US Naval Research Laboratory, was launched from the Kodiak Launch Complex in Alaska at 1549 GMT on Tuesday.

The military satellite was placed in its targeted highly elliptical orbit above the Earth approximately 28 minutes later, Orbital Sciences Corporation, manufacturer of Minotaur IV rocket, said.

The tactical communication satellite has been built to allow troops using existing radios to communicate on-the-move and from obscure regions, the Navy said.

The 450-kilogram satellite, equipped with a 3-meter-diameter antenna, will operate in a highly inclined low Earth orbit, augmenting links provided by the Navy’s operational UHF Follow On communications satellites, which operate above the equator in geostationary orbit, it said.

The satellite is powered by twin solar arrays generating one kilowatt of power.

The latest mission has marked the 100th launch for the Naval Research Laboratory-built satellites into orbit.

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