by Air Force News Service
7/22/2014 - WASHINGTON -- The
Air Force plans to launch two operational satellites and one
experimental satellite into near-geosynchronous Earth orbit July 23.
According to Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James, "these
operational and experimental systems will enhance the nation's ability
to monitor and assess events regarding our military and commercial
systems. In essence, they will create a space neighborhood watch
The two operational satellites are part of the Air Force's Geosynchronous Space Situational Awareness Program, or GSSAP.
The GSSAP satellites will provide U.S. Strategic Command with space
situational awareness data allowing for more accurate tracking and
characterization of man-made orbiting objects.
The satellites will drift a safe distance away from the geosynchronous
equatorial orbit, or GEO, belt while surveilling the area to further
enable spaceflight safety.
As space becomes increasingly congested, contested and competitive, it
is imperative to protect the systems in space on which the world
Air Force Space Command commander, Gen. William Shelton said, "we
support the peaceful use of space for all countries but we believe it is
necessary to increase our ability to detect and attribute any
threatening or disruptive actions."
The experimental satellite program, known as Automated Navigation and
Guidance Experiment for Local Space, or ANGELS, is led by the Air Force
Research Laboratory's Space Vehicles Directorate headquartered at
Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico.
This science and technology satellite will conduct safe research
activities around the upper stage of its Delta IV launch vehicle.
ANGELS will test new space situational awareness techniques and
technologies while performing safe, automated spacecraft operations to
support and enhance future U.S. missions.
AFRL commander Maj. Gen. Thomas Masiello said, "the experiments
conducted with ANGELS will allow the United States to safely operate
future space situational awareness satellites in a more efficient,
effective and autonomous manner."
Although the two GSSAP spacecraft and the AFRL ANGELS experimental
spacecraft will launch on the same United Launch Alliance Delta IV
booster out of Cape Canaveral, Florida, the missions and objectives are
As the Air Force continues to develop cutting-edge and essential space
programs, James said "this launch is a remarkable accomplishment in the
Air Force development of technologies to ensure the safe and responsible
use of space."