AF launches successful satellite mission

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The 45th Space Wing supported a successful United Launch Alliance Delta IV vehicle carrying Air Force Space Command mission assets for the Air Force July 28.

The AFSPC-4 mission payload included two satellites for the Geosynchronous Space Situational Awareness Program, or GSSAP, and an Air Force Research Laboratory experimental satellite.

The rocket, which flew in the Medium+ (4,2) configuration with two solid rocket boosters, roared to life from Launch Complex 37 here.

The 45th SW's team of military personnel, government civilians, and contractors provided launch support to the ULA mission, including weather forecasts, launch and range operations, security, safety, and public affairs.

GSSAP satellites will be a space-based capability operating in the near-geosynchronous orbit regime supporting U.S. Strategic Command’s space surveillance operations as a dedicated Space Surveillance Network, or SSN, sensor.

Also aboard was the experimental Automated Navigation and Guidance Experiment for Local Space, or ANGELS, satellite. ANGELS will evaluate space situational awareness techniques maneuvering in a limited region around its Delta-4 rocket body upper stage several hundred kilometers above Geosynchronous Earth Orbit. The program is managed by the AFRL’s Space Vehicles Directorate, located at Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico.

"What a thrill for 'Team Patrick-Cape' to play a significant role in the launch of this vitally important mission, and we are so very proud to do so," said Brig. Gen. Nina Armagno, the 45th SW commander, who also served as the launch decision authority for the mission.

"The 45th Space Wing also thanks members of the 50th Space Wing, United Launch Alliance, the Space and Missile Systems Center, Boeing and all our other mission partners who made this launch successful," she said.

GSSAP satellites will support Joint Functional Component Command for Space tasking to collect space situational awareness data allowing for more accurate tracking and characterization of man-made orbiting objects. It will have a clear, unobstructed and distinct vantage point for viewing resident space objects orbiting earth in a near-geosynchronous orbit without the disruption of weather or atmosphere that can limit ground-based systems.

Data from GSSAP is expected to contribute to timely and accurate orbital predictions, enhancing knowledge of the geosynchronous orbit environment, and further enabling space flight safety to include satellite collision avoidance.

GSSAP satellites will communicate information through the worldwide Air Force Satellite Control Network ground stations, then to Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado, where satellite operators of the1st Space Operations Squadron, 50th SW, will oversee day-to-day command and control operations.

(Courtesy of 45th Space Wing Public Affairs)