For the first time, Space Launch Delta 45 supported a National Security Space Launch mission carried out on a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket that launched from Space Launch Complex 39A at Kennedy Space Center, Fla., Nov. 1, 2022. The payloads onboard included two space vehicles, the Long Duration Propulsive EELV Secondary Payload Adaptor (LDPE ESPA-2) and the Shepard Demonstration Mission. The LDPE ESPA-2 spacecraft will deliver six small payloads to orbit that will advance communications and space weather sensing. LDPE ESPA-2 is envisioned as a ‘freight train to space’ for experiments and prototypes in geosynchronous high Earth orbit and will boost satellites to their final destination.
“Every national security launch brings important capabilities to the nation, and investments in space capabilities increase the effectiveness of operations in every other domain – the U.S. military is better connected, more informed, faster, and precise because of Space. We are always looking ahead, planning for the future needs of our space system partners and investing in talent and technologies we will need to ensure we provide assured access to space with confidence,” said U.S. Space Force Maj. Gen. Select Stephen Purdy, Space Launch Delta 45 Commander and Assured Access to Space Program Executive Officer.
Because it is more cost effective, more companies with smaller satellites can make use of this ‘train’, increasing the speed and frequency of delivering similar payloads to orbit. Like the LDPE-2, the Shepard Demonstration is designed to test new technologies to enhance safe and responsible rendezvous and proximity operations, providing an affordable path to space for hosted and separable payloads.The USSF-44 mission provides a range of capabilities such as enabling safe navigation, secure communications, detection and identification of a wide range of threats, and other critical functions. This is the second of three missions for the LDPE program. The first mission launched aboard STP-3 in December 2021 and LDPE-3A is scheduled to launch with USSF-67 in December of 2022.
The Space Launch Delta 45 (SLD 45) is a unit of the United States Space Force. The Space Launch Delta 45 is assigned to Space Systems Command and headquartered at Patrick Space Force Base, Florida. The wing also controls Cape Canaveral Space Force Station. The 45th Space Delta is responsible for all space launch operations from the East Coast. It manages the Eastern Range, including launch activities for the Space Force, Department of Defense (DoD), NASA, and other private space corporations. Primary launch vehicles include the Atlas V, Delta IV, Delta IV Heavy, Pegasus, Minotaur, Falcon 9, Falcon Heavy, and Boeing X-37 rockets. It also supports U.S. Navy Trident II D5 ballistic missile tests and evaluation.