A secret US military-funded experiment was launched in space aboard the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket alongside Spanish communications satellite, reports have emerged.
Neither SpaceX nor the US military had revealed any information about this secret experiment that was launched into space by sharing a ride with the Spanish Hispasat 30W-6 communications, but information about it emerged after publicly-available orbital data published by the U.S. military revealed an unexpected object in space that was attributed to Tuesday’s launch named PODSat.
Space Systems/Loral and NovaWurks, two companies involved in the project, acknowledged the presence of the secondary experimental satellite, but they refrained from revealing any further details. They did mention that the satellite was functioning normally.
James Greer, chief operating officer at NovaWurks, did confirm to Spaceflight Now that the experiment is a DARPA project. Because of this they are not at liberty to discuss details about the project.
SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket placed the Spanish satellite in a “sub-synchronous” transfer orbit ranging in altitude between 115 miles (185 kilometers) and 13,285 miles (22,250 kilometers) above Earth, inclined approximately 27 degrees to the equator. Hispasat 30W-6 then deployed PODSat in the same orbit before beginning maneuvers to raise its altitude toward geosynchronous orbit nearly 22,300 miles (35,800 kilometers) over the equator.