By Staff Sgt. Robert Cloys
50th Space Wing Public Affairs
The 3rd Space Operations Squadron demonstrated a proof of concept for Air Force Satellite Control Network antenna automation here June 6.
The test proved, with nominal conditions, that next generation Remote Block Change antennas normally requiring around-the-clock manning, could accomplish communications without an operator sitting at the other end.
“Automation is significant for a couple of reasons,” said Lt. Col. Chadwick Igl, 3 SOPS commander. “In 3 SOPS, antenna automation allows our operators to leverage the automation efforts we’ve developed during the last several years through the Task Automated Operations process. This in turn improves resource utilization by reducing the network time required for the satellite contacts and will allow the 22nd Space Operations Squadron to continue to optimize the AFSCN.”
Still in its first stages of testing, the concept will continue to improve as different, more complex, variables are used.
“We will continue this testing by putting different stresses on the system and working to overcome any challenges they provide,” said 1st Lt. James Kundert, a member of the ground engineering team for the automation proof of concept.
Information gained from these automated supports have the potential to allow other organizations to leverage the knowledge gained by 3 SOPS as they send timely and continuous feedback to 22 SOPS.
“The next step for 3 SOPS will be to continue to develop and refine the operations procedures so operators can fully utilize and gain the benefits of executing satellite supports via Automated Remote Block Change Operational Concept sites,” said Igl. ”We are committed to supporting the ongoing test effort by working closely with 22 SOPS to build in more complex satellite supports at the AROC sites.”
Lt. Col. Scott Angerman, 22 SOPS commander, also commented on the ongoing effort.
“AFSCN antenna automation is being targeted at four RBC antennas initially to allow the 50 Space Wing efficient use of resources using inherent technical antenna capabilities,” he said. “22 SOPS along with our partners in 21 SOPS and the Space and Missile Center will be working with all AFSCN users this month to test and validate this concept for automated space operations. This increasingly will be the way of the future.”
Since the initial test support, 3 SOPS conducted two additional automated commanding supports to the Defense Satellite Communications System without issue.
“3 SOPS is honored to be the first squadron within the 50th Space Wing to demonstrate this game-changing capability. I’d like to personally thank my ground engineering team led by 1st Lt. James ‘JC’ Kundert, Senior Airman Christopher Reeves, Airman 1st Class Briana McDougal, and Airman 1st Class James Ferguson for developing and testing the operational procedures,” said Igl. “Their hard work, technical expertise and knowledge has been invaluable to the test AROC support success and will be instrumental in developing and validating the operational procedures for future AROC supports.”