During its eight years on orbit, NFIRE helped advance the state-of-the-art ballistic missile detection system, accomplished bi-directional satellite laser communications at will and boosted international collaboration with Germany.
NFIRE launched in April 2007 aboard an Orbital ATK Minotaur I from Wallops Island, Virginia.
The NFIRE decommissioning process encompassed three burns that progressively lowered the satellite's orbit, dumped its fuel and left the spacecraft in a low-altitude orbit that will lead to atmospheric re-entry.
Unlike the contentious missile defense program, which includes space-based interceptors like NFIRE
, there are several concepts on the table to win a future battle for low earth orbit by using munitions and disruption weapons from aircraft or ground stations, according to experts and Air Force documents.
The success of NFIRE is important to the development of missile defense technologies that will be used to defend the United States," said David Shingledecker, vice president and general manager of integrated space systems for General Dynamics.
General Dynamics is the system integrator for the NFIRE mission, responsible for the design and manufacture of the spacecraft, payload integration, full satellite system testing, configuration of the mission operation centers, and one year of on-orbit operations support.
satellite was built by General Dynamics and includes a primary payload that will generate experimental data of rocket exhaust plumes, and a secondary payload that will evaluate laser communications technologies.
The purpose of the Missile Defense Agency's NFIRE
mission is to collect scientific data that will be used to help with the development of future missile defense technology efforts.
The Minotaur I space launch vehicle design used in today's NFIRE launch is the original member of Orbital's Minotaur family of launch vehicles, which includes both space launch vehicle designs and long-range suborbital vehicles for missile defense and other specialized launch missions.
Two additional launches are scheduled this year, both of which are intended to be observed by the NFIRE spacecraft as it passes overhead in orbit;
Our highly successful mission-assurance track record of providing low-cost, reliable and high-performance spacecraft continues with NFIRE
Missile Defense Agency's NFIRE
satellite from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility, on the East Coast.