Satellite Gets the Vacuum Treatment

The Air Force’s first advanced extremely high frequency communications satellite is undergoing thermal vacuum testing, lead contractor Lockheed Martin announced June 30. The testing, which is taking place at the company’s facility in Sunnyvale, Calif., will continue until late in the month to verify the spacecraft’s functionality and performance in an environment simulating the rigors of space. Lockheed Martin and payload-supplier Northrop Grumman are preparing the satellite for delivery to the Air Force in early 2009 for its subsequent launch. Lockheed is under contract to build three AEHF satellites, but the Air Force intends to procure a fourth as well. Each AEHF satellite will provide more secure communications throughput capacity than the entire current Milstar constellation.