By Staff Sgt. Robert Cloys
50th Space Wing Public Affairs
Launched in June 2011, ORS-1 is the first satellite in the Operationally Responsive Space Program and Air Force Space Command’s first dedicated intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance asset providing critical imagery capability to CENTCOM.
“The significance of this milestone cannot be understated for 1 SOPS, the 50th Space Wing and even Air Force Space Command. In many ways, ORS-1 is redefining how we do satellite operations,” said Col. Tommy Roberts, 50th Operations Group commander.
“Thanks to the lessons learned and the innovations during the past year, 1 SOPS is aggressively moving this mission area forward on numerous fronts.”
Taking only three years to develop from concept to launch and orbit, ORS-1 distinguished itself through its rapid deployment.
“With ORS-1 Air Force Space Command proved it could deliver exceptional space capabilities faster and cheaper to meet urgent needs of the joint force,” said Lt. Col. Mike Manor, 1 SOPS commander, during a ceremony here Friday. “This system has demonstrated innovation is not just a buzz word, but alive and well in the 50th Space Wing, and has truly become the hallmark of how our squadron operates.”
ORS-1 was built maximizing the use of existing capabilities, systems and architectures. Its payload technology was derived from a camera developed for use aboard U-2 spy planes decades ago. By attaching a larger telescope contractors gave the system adequate resolution from orbit.
Innovative thinking led to success operationally as well as recognition.
Shortly after 1 SOPS took satellite control authority, C4ISR Journal, an intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance industry magazine named the satellite system to its Big-25 list as one of the top 25 most important ISR concepts of the year. The journal then listed ORS-1 as a Top Five Sensor in 2011. The satellite also received a nomination for the Air Force Space Command Getty award as well as two others.
More recently, ORS-1 was awarded the 2012 Mission Sustainment Integrated Product Team award in September for providing urgent-need imaging to CENTCOM at 20 percent of the cost of traditional satellite systems.
ORS-1 is proof that the Air Force can respond to the needs of the warfighter efficiently.
“During the past year, I’ve observed a squadron full of people working diligently to make sure that ORS-1 far exceeded the user’s expectations,” said 1st Lt. Sarah Stewart, ORS-1 space vehicle engineer. “It’s amazing how far we have come since launch and early orbit. ORS-1 has continuously proven that with hard work and dedication, you can do more with less.”
With such a successful start, Manor is sure there is much more to come.
“We’re taking a moment to celebrate, but this is just the beginning for our team and this outstanding satellite,” he said.