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ORS-1 Nears Launch: Air Force officials at Kirtland AFB, N.M., are preparing for the late spring launch of ORS-1, the first-ever Operationally Responsive Space satellite. Defense Department officials conceived of this spacecraft only about 30 months ago to provide direct, rapid intelligence-surveillance-reconnaissance support to theater commanders in Southwest Asia. The satellite features a modified version of Goodrich's SYERS-2 electro-optical/infrared sensor that currently flies on U-2 surveillance aircraft. "Right now, the satellite is undergoing thermal vacuum testing, which is the last major significant milestone before we ship ORS-1 to the launch facility," said Lt. Col. Tim Rade, ORS-1 program manager at Kirtland. The satellite is currently at Goodrich's plant in Danbury, Conn. Plans are to ship it to NASA's Wallops Flight Facility on the eastern shore of Virginia for its liftoff aboard a Minotaur I launch vehicle. Following launch, ORS-1 will undergo a 30-day, on-orbit checkout before commencing operations. (Kirtland release)