By Staff Sgt. Julius Delos Reyes
50th Space Wing Public Affairs
The 23rd Space Operations Squadron completed installation of an Automated Remote Tracking Station capability on its Eastern Vehicle Checkout Facility, call sign BEACH, Aug. 29 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla.
The EVCF is responsible for launch-based compatibility testing and launch data collection, primarily on the Eastern Launch Range.
“The Air Force Satellite Control Network uses the ARTS core for continual execution of telemetry, tracking and commanding operations,” said Master Sgt. David McDonald, 23 SOPS superintendent and maintenance contracting officer representative. “This is vital for the AFSCN to maintain control of all satellites within its span of responsibility.”
At the facility, the ARTS system checks and verifies whether the user or owner of the satellite can access its information using the AFSCN. During building of a satellite’s communications equipment, users/owners will perform several tests from their clean rooms to EVCF through the ARTS core equipment to verify compatibility with AFSCN or to work out any communications issues they may have with their satellite.
“BEACH ensures satellites to be supported by the Air Force Satellite Control Network are working and compatible before they launch into space,” said Lt. Col. Cary Belmear, 23 SOPS operations officer.
McDonald said it is better to fix a problem on a multi-million dollar satellite while on the pad versus waiting for it to get into space.
“During launch and post-launch, the EVCF uses the ARTS system to gather data and relay information to the Space Operations Center,” he said.
Prior to gaining the capability, 23 SOPS used a transportable vehicle checkout facility received from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., many years ago. The TVCF was cleared for operational use this month by the 22nd Space Operations Squadron at Schriever Air Force Base, Colo.
“Now that the ARTS equipment is on the operations floor, the TVCF is freed up to be used for its actual mission,” Belmear said. “It is now at Schriever as part of the POGO-A [mission redundancy assurance plans].”
The squadron worked closely with the Space and Missile Systems Center to create checklists and write deficiency reports and helped resolve the issues along the way.
Belmear said funding challenges have delayed the project for several years.
“While there were certainly many bumps in the road, we are proud that our teams got the job done to everyone’s satisfaction,” he said.
“The teamwork was incredible,” McDonald said. “This was a multi-year project that kept changing in scope through the years. We worked hand-in-hand with SMC’s government project officer, Lisa Markel, for completion of this project. Honeywell was tasked for the install while Harris was the recipient and operators of the system.”
McDonald said this project could not have been accomplished if it weren’t for the excellent team work, communication and dedication of Lisa Markel, Staff Sgt. John Bille from 23 SOPS, Ramon Ford from Honeywell, and Jim Cobb, Paul Banks and Bruce Foster from Harris.