October 23, 2021

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US Air Force celebrates end of satellite mission to study Earth’s radiation belts

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The U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory’s mission to study Earth’s Van Allen radiation belts and their effect on spacecraft has come to a close after exceeding its original planned lifetime of one year in orbit. 

The Demonstration and Science Experiments (DSX) spacecraft, built and managed by the laboratory that’s also known as AFRL, launched on June 25, 2019 aboard a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Billed as the “largest uncrewed structure in space” by the Air Force, DSX launched as part of the Department of Defense’s Space Test Program and was designed to operate in medium Earth orbit for at least one year. However, the mission ran nearly a year longer than expected, until May 31, according to a statement from the AFRL. 

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