By Senior Airman William Tracy
50th Space Wing Public Affairs
THULE, Greenland — The 23rd Space Operations Squadron Detachment 1 in Thule, Greenland, achieved a milestone maintaining an error free streak since Feb. 11, 2014, with more than 62,000 successful supports as of Jan. 21.
“Error free operations maximizes system availability across the Air Force Satellite Control Network,” said said Maj. Jeffrey Rivenbark, 23rd SOPS director of operations. “More system availability equals more capacity to support the ever growing number of satellites on orbit today and into the future.”
The 50th Space Wing geographically separated unit, known as POGO, averages 30 satellite contacts per day with each contact requiring coordination between space operations centers throughout the wing and around the world. It’s location as the northernmost U.S. military installation provides polar coverage for satellite missions.
“Thule Tracking Station expertly performs telemetry, tracking and commanding operations support of U.S. and allied satellite programs in support of national defense,” said Capt. Brian Chambon, 23rd SOPS Det. 1 commander.
Rivenbark emphasized the importance of this accomplishment.
“POGO’s location makes error free operations all that more crucial,” he said. “Contacting satellites involves precise timing, communication of technical data, and system configuration to ensure mission success. Maximizing the availability of these resources is, and has been, essential to the success of the AFSCN since its inception.”
Rivenbark attributed the site’s continued success to its Airmen’s professionalism and hard work.
“The key to this success is both the technical proficiency and professionalism of our operators, as well as the longevity they provide, some working as much as 17 years on site,” he said.
He added the error free streak is a direct reflection of the high morale and comradery between operators at POGO, despite the location’s unfavorable conditions.
“Temperatures dip below zero and there is no sunlight most of the year — additionally, the amenities that we enjoy stateside, such as mail and internet services, are slow and rare commodities,” Rivenbark said. “Yet, despite the austere and challenging conditions of working at POGO, the honor of holding an error free streak this long definitely goes a long way in instilling pride in the mission amongst those who work there.”
Chambon said the error free streak is a highlight marking the beginning of a promising year at Thule.
“We have an upgrade planned for the future — once complete, this upgraded system will greatly increase the amount of satellite supports the site will be able to flawlessly execute on a daily basis,” he said.
Rivenbark shared this excitement for the future and said despite the ever changing space and cyberspace warfighting realms, the station’s error free streak is the one thing he is determined to keep consistent.
“Without sites like POGO and the flawless operations executed by the operators there, space operators at Schriever AFB who depend on communication through the AFSCN would not be able to contact their satellites that aren’t in direct line-of-sight of Colorado Springs,” he said. “Our operators there do a tremendous job executing 24/7 operations.”