FASTRAC Mission Receives Critical D.O.D. Ranking for Launch
December 15, 2005
The FASTRAC project has been ranked by the 2005 Department of Defense Space Experiments Review Board (DOD SERB), an extremely critical step for a 2006 launch.
There was good news for the members of the FASTRAC team at UT Austin and at AFRL in Albuquerque as the results of the DOD SERB were announced earlier this month. Any space experiment that hopes to be launched by the US military must first secure a ranking by the DOD SERB, which is no guarantee even for large Department of Defense projects. Although FASTRAC is a University-built satellite, it must compete with non-University programs in order to receive a launch to orbit. The SERB is a demanding three-level ranking process for programs vying for a ride to space in the Space Test Program (STP), the military broker who assigns SERB-ranked experiments to a launch vehicle. The SERB process down-selects from a large pool of experiments from potentially all branches of the military down to a small group that can be launched given the resources of US launch facilities.
Scott Franke, manager of the University Nanosatellite Program at the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), successfully represented the FASTRAC project at all three levels of the SERB. The first was the AFRL SERB held at Kirtland Air Force Base where FASTRAC competed against all space experiments under development at AFRL. In September, after securing a comfortable rank in the AFRL SERB, Scott defended FASTRAC at the Air Force-wide Review Board (USAF SERB) where FASTRAC was up against experiments from other Air Force organizations. On November 1st, after receiving the important USAF SERB ranking, Scott traveled again to Washington DC to defend FASTRAC against all potential DOD space experiments in the most competitive level of the SERB. FASTRAC was ranked 39th out of 43 experiments of the DOD SERB and was the top-ranking University-built satellite.
The results of the SERB are very exciting and are a testament to the FASTRAC program as a whole and to Mr. Franke's dedication to the mission and his endurance throughout the SERB process. The spacecraft integration team at UT Austin is very grateful to Scott's efforts throughout that process.
The FASTRAC project is currently undergoing final Integration at The University of Texas at Austin Satellite Design Laboratory. That process will be followed by delivery to AFRL for system testing and final launch certification in the spring of 2006.
Congratulations to Scott Franke and the whole FASTRAC team for passing this critical test on the road to space!
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