Inflatable sphere in multiple satellite launch

Vladimir Agapov (
Tue, 30 Nov 1999 15:35:58 +0300


I think you're aware that the launch of Minotaur with multiple
satellite payload is scheduled at 02:12 UTC on Dec 8.
Most of payloads are nanosats and picosats. To the point,
I've failed to calculate proper quantity of satellites to be
launched. My current score is 12. Here is the list

JAWSAT MPA (Multi-Payload Adapter with some
additional instruments attached)
ASUSat 1
DARPA Picosat (2 satellites connected with tether)
Artemis (3 satellites ?)
OCSE (I didn't included into the count OCSE's container)

The latest one is most interesting for visual observation since it
is an inflatable sphere of 3.5 meters (!) diameter. OCSE means
Optical Calibration Sphere Experiment and will serve as target
for the U.S. AirForce ground optical stations at Starfire Optical

I've found an article about OCSE at
Text version of it is providede below.

Planned orbit is SSO 750 km, 98.39 deg, 99 min. I didn't
found any information on a sequence of event so it's not
known when the sphere should be released. But it's known
that not all payloads will be released simultaneously.
For example, Artemis group of satellites will be ejected
from OPAL within couple of months.

All the best,
Vladimir Agapov.


Air Force to bounce lasers off Tustin-made balloon

 October 29, 1999

The Orange County Register

The U.S. Air Force is preparing to launch a locally-built inflatable
balloon into
space so it can further refine its ability to track high-flying

The highly-reflective silver-colored balloon was built by L'Garde, Inc.
of Tustin,
which earlier made an experimental antenna that was inflated above the
earth in
1996, after being released by the space shuttle.

After it's placed it space, the new balloon will automatically inflate
into a 12-foot
diameter sphere about 430 miles above the earth and remain in permanent
around the planet.

"The balloon looks like a humongous ball-bearing," said Koorosh
 the L'Garde engineer who managed to get the inflatable structure
designed and
built in less than four months, for less than $500,000.

The Air Force says it will bounce low-powered lasers off the sphere
during tests meant to improve the military's ability to track and image
satellites. The lasers will be fired from specially-equipped telescopes
at the
Starfire Optical Range at Kirtland Air Force Base in New Mexico.

The Air Force says it must use low-power lasers to avoid heating the
surface of the balloon and destroying it. The balloon's skin is thinner
than a
human hair.

The sphere, like Mir and the International Space Station, will
periodically be visible from Southern California. L'Garde intends to
upcoming sightings on its web site,

The balloon is one of several pieces of scientific equipment that will
lofted aboard a Minotaur rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base in

Unsubscribe from SeeSat-L by sending a message with 'unsubscribe'
in the SUBJECT to