A new satellite built by Northrop Grumman Corporation for the United States Space Force (USSF) successfully launched this week, supporting the Long Duration Propulsive ESPA (LDPE) program and the USSF-67 mission.
Known as the LDPE-3A, this satellite was built using Northrop Grumman’s ESPAStar and filled with hardware for fire independent missions. This will, in theory, allow individual missions to avoid waiting for future launch opportunities – their supplies already await. ESPAStar products utilize customer versions of a standard ESPA ring, offering added propulsion, power, and avionic subsystems for the satellites. A SpaceX Falcon Heavy launch vehicle delivered LDPE-3A to near-geosynchronous Earth orbit for a year-long mission.
“From conception and development of next-generation space technology, like ESPAStar, to on-orbit command and control, we are prepared to support the full lifecycle of our customer’s missions throughout the ever-evolving threat environment,” Troy Brashear, vice president of national security systems at Northrop Grumman, said.
The mission aboard the SpaceX Falcon Heavy represented the fifth of its kind to date and brought two satellites that will be used for payload transport and to transmit military communications data.
The LDPE-3 was preceded by LDPE-1 in December 2021 and LDPE-2 in November 2022, in support of the STP-3 mission and USSF-44 mission, respectively. Northrop Grumman added that it plans to continue supplying future ESPAStar spacecraft, mission systems engineering, ground software systems, and hardware platforms for future USSF missions.