by Brian Hagberg
50th Space Wing Public Affairs
10/14/2015 - SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- The
3rd Space Operations Squadron accepted satellite control authority of
the Wideband Global Satcom-7 satellite here Oct. 13, following a three
month launch and early orbit checkout period.
"Our team spent about four to five hours today, both here in garrison
and out [in California] going over everything," said Lt. Col. Chris
Todd, 3 SOPS commander. "It's like checking over a car before you buy
it, checking the fuel systems, engine block, making sure everything is
ready to go."
This SCA transfer brings the seventh of 10 satellites which will compose
the WGS constellation into the control of 3 SOPS. The WGS
constellation, when complete, will phase out the Defense Satellite
"[WGS] multiplies [DSCS capabilities] 10 times," said Col. Dennis
Bythewood, 50th Operations Group commander. "It's pushing data and
intelligence out to the warfighter on a larger bandwidth. Our capability
to push that data drives its dissemination."
Because the number of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance
drone flights the Air Force conducts regularly has grown exponentially
during the last 10 years, an upgrade to the DSCS constellation was
required in order to keep up. The WGS constellation will not only
increase the bandwidth for the data from those drone flights to be
disseminated, it will also bring improved capabilities.
"With more bandwidth, we can support more users," Todd said.
WGS-7 was launched into orbit July 23, and has been monitored by a team
from Boeing, with support from a four-man 3 SOPS team, at the Boeing
Mission Control Center in El Segundo, California.
"Our team supports Boeing during the mission by playing the role of
spacecraft engineer," said 1st Lt. Joseph Cha, 3 SOPS WGS engineering
officer. "A spacecraft engineer dictates the pace of operations since
all commands are executed through our console. Additionally, we
interface with the various subsystems of the satellite to ensure the
proper command plans are being executed."
The three month LEO period allows Boeing and Cha's team to ensure the
satellite functions properly before command and control is transferred
to 3 SOPS.
"The period between launch and SCA transfer is the process of getting
our satellite in orbit and ensuring it functions the way we originally
planned," Cha said. "Mission activities include executing numerous orbit
raising burns, deploying solar arrays and initializing our payload
amongst many other items."
Cha's team remained on console during the SCA transfer, configuring the
satellite for final holdover and prepared to resolve any discrepancies
between the Boeing Mission Control Center and 3 SOPS.
WGS-8 is scheduled to launch from Cape Canaveral, Florida in September 2016.