Mobility Airmen play key role in successful satellite launch

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Cameron Otte
  • 60th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

With the help of mobility Airmen from Travis Air Force Base, the Advanced Extremely High Frequency-5 communications satellite was launched into space Aug. 8 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida.

According to Don Ruffin, chief of the U.S. Air Force’s Strategic Satellite Communications Division, the AEHF-5 satellite is built to withstand the electromagnetic effects of nuclear blasts and resist the most sophisticated enemy jamming efforts. The AEHF communications stations “augment our warfighter's ability to fly, fight and win and do that at epic speed.”

The fifth AEHF satellite, working with four similar relay stations already in orbit, will provide survivable, global, secure, protected and jam-resisting communications for high-priority military ground, fleet and air assets, Ruffin said.

Before the AEHF-5 could do its job in space, Travis AFB Airmen transported the satellite from California to Florida, April 19. It was vital that NASA’s satellite arrived safely and on time.

“We flew out from Travis AFB to Moffett Airfield which is 30 minutes down south in San Jose,” said Airman 1st Class Jerad Domico, 22nd Airlift Squadron C-5M Super Galaxy loadmaster. “We had a loading team prepositioned to load the satellite when we landed. After the satellite was properly secured onto the C-5C Space Cargo Modified Galaxy, we flew over to John F. Kennedy Space Center in Florida.”

Without the support of Travis AFB and its aircraft, transporting a satellite cross-country would have been nearly impossible.

“We are the only base that use the C-model of the C-5s, which are specifically used for carrying NASA equipment,” said Senior Airman Matthew Warden, 60th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron electrical environmental systems technician. “NASA equipment fits perfectly into the mounts of the C-5C which is why we used it, this aircraft allowed us to transport the satellite safely.”

As a new Airman, Domico said he was amazed by the opportunity to contribute to a mission of this magnitude.

“The whole experience was so surreal, getting to see everything and be part of a mission like this was unbelievable,” Domico said. “Just knowing that I had a part in launching a satellite into space is mind boggling. I never thought I’d be able to say something like that.”

Thanks in part to Travis Airmen, the AEHF-5 satellite is now operational high above Earth, enhancing America’s ability to operate worldwide.

“Strategically, the AEHF-5 mission continues the United States’ legacy of communications superiority, a force multiplier in America’s ability to project power globally,” said Maj. Ivan Slater, AEHF-5 Program Office chief. “With the AEHF-5 providing a reliable and resilient communications platform, America’s forces abroad can communicate in congested and jammed environments. In addition, the AEHF-5 strengthens America’s alliances with our international partners by providing satellite communications to the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and Canada.”

The sixth and final AEHF satellite is scheduled for launch in March 2020.