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Satellite built at Kirtland set for launch

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A satellite built and tested by engineers and scientists from the Air Force Research Laboratory’s Space Vehicles Directorate at Kirtland Air Force Base is scheduled to launch today from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

This is an artist's rendering of the ANGELS satellite scheduled for launch today from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. Depicted between the satellite and Earth is the upper stage of the Delta IV rocket that will have taken the satellite to orbit. (Courtesy of the U.S. Air Force)

This is an artist’s rendering of the ANGELS satellite scheduled for launch today from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. Depicted between the satellite and Earth is the upper stage of the Delta IV rocket that will have taken the satellite to orbit. (Courtesy of the U.S. Air Force)

The Automated Navigation and Guidance Experiment for Local Space, or ANGELS, satellite will examine techniques for providing a clearer picture of the environment around U.S. space assets, according to an Air Force Research Laboratory news release.

The satellite features a sensor that can evaluate techniques for detecting, tracking and characterizing space objects while in near-geosynchronous orbit.

The Space Vehicles Directorate, one of nine Air Force Research Laboratory directorates, will operate and maintain control of the satellite during its time in orbit from a mission operations center, also at Kirtland.

The satellite will undergo a variety of in-orbit tests over the next several weeks to evaluate and establish its readiness to conduct experiments. The Air Force will use the results of the experiments to develop future satellite systems, according to the Air Force Research Laboratory.

A team of more than 50 military, civilian and contractor personnel will plan and operate the ANGELS spacecraft for about a year. Seventy military, civilian and contractor scientists and engineers will analyze the data over the next several years for Air Force Space Command.

ATA Aerospace of Albuquerque is the project’s integration and test contractor.

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