A Minotaur IV rocket carries a military communications satellite into orbit from Spaceport Kodiak Tuesday morning. Pam Foreman/KMXT photo
The Naval Research Laboratory’s new military communications satellite, TacSat IV (four), lifted off without a hitch at sunrise today (Tuesday) from the Kodiak Launch Complex. The Narrow Cape rocket site is about 25 miles from Kodiak City.
Within a few minutes all that could be seen from the ground was a column of smoke illuminated by the rising sun. People as far away as Dillingham and Bethel reported seeing the rocket plume on the horizon.
According to Daniel Parry with the Naval Research Laboratory, the TacSat-4 is an experimental spacecraft that will test advances in satellite communications and the use of special orbits to augment current geostationary communication satellites.
The TacSat-4 will go into a highly elliptical, or oblong, orbit, reaching a maximum distance from earth of 12,050 kilometers, or 7,500 miles. Parry says the high swings in orbit will help provide better military communications in high latitudes and in mountainous terrain.