Members of the 4th Space Operations Squadron at Schriever AFB, Colo., are commencing tests with the Air Force’s second Advanced Extremely High Frequency military communications satellite, according to Schriever officials. The satellite reached its intended orbital perch on Aug. 27 after a four-month journey following its launch from Cape Canaveral AFS, Fla., they said in a Sept. 12 release. While Space and Missile Systems Center officials in Los Angeles will continue to hold satellite control authority for AEHF-2 during this testing phase, the airmen of the 4th SOPS will be involved since they control AEHF-1 and some of the testing will involve coordination between AEHF-1 and AEHF-2, such as evaluating the two satellites’ ability to crosslink with each other and with the legacy Milstar communications satellites, said the officials. “It’s almost impossible to test these types of satellite[s] on the ground because of how they’ll be crosslinked together and how they will interact in space,” said 1st Lt. Kathleen Giegler, 4th SOPS payload engineer. (Schriever report by Scott Prater)
Lockheed Martin is pitching its Airbus A330-based LMXT tanker as a “mothership” for the Air Force’s planned fleet of small, stealthy tankers—a rationale company officials hope will overcome the service’s reticence to open its so-called “bridge tanker” buy to competition.