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21st SOPS Det. 3, Kaena Point Tracking Station celebrates its 60th anniversary

50th Space Wing Public Affairs

KAENA POINT TRACKING STATION, Hawaii — The 21st Space Operation Squadron, Detachment 3 gathered at Kaena Point Satellite Tracking Station, Hawaii, Feb. 28, 2019, to celebrate 60 years of space operations.

One of eight satellite remote tracking stations in the Air Force Satellite Control Network, Det. 3 is located on the island of Oahu approximately 40 miles from Honolulu and Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii.

Maj. Edmond Chan, 21st SOPS, Det. 3 commander, presided over the ceremony, featuring Brig. Gen. Ryan Okahara, Hawaii Air National Guard commander and Guard Advisor to the 14th Air Force commander, as guest speaker.

Jason Hughes, 21st SOPS, Det. 3 site manager, said in the past 60 years the site has seen advancements in hardware and software, increasing the level of effort provided.

“Rising demands for information by our decision makers across the globe required increased tempo.  What was once done by paper and mailed to the remote tracking stations, is now transmitted in mere seconds providing on the spot updates,” he said. “Where two antennas once stood, we now see one. One antenna now can provide both the tracking and commanding data for our constellation of satellites.”

As with any kind of progress, over 60 years there have been challenges.

“Operational tempo and sustainment requirements are steadily increasing. The way we handle the increase is to prioritize activities.  Activities that are inherently tied to force readiness are automatically a top priority,” he said.

In addition to the mission, Kaena Point Tracking Station also works hand in hand with the local communities in times of need and disaster.

“From fires, hurricanes and search and rescue missions on or near the site, we stand ready to work with our community providing a clear pathway to the skies,” Hughes said.

Kaena Point Tracking Station is one in a crucial network of sites supporting more than 185 satellites, to perform mission operations around the world.

Chan says the support the site provides is important to the success the tracking station has experienced thus far.

“Our team performs 24/7 on-orbit satellite tracking, telemetry, commanding and mission data retrieval operations while simultaneously providing innovative engineering, maintenance and logistical support for the Air Force Satellite Control Network,” he said.        

Going forward Det. 3 will continue to innovate and execute today’s operations as tempos increase and satellites continue to launch.

“Kaena Point Tracking Station has an enduring space mission, sitting on a strategically ideal location in the Pacific and is postured for growth,” Chan said.

Reaching the 60th anniversary milestone is a reminder to those working the site of the importance of meeting the mission partners needs.

As of Jan. 22, the site reached 60,000 error-free satellite supports for 1,000 consecutive days.

This is the excellence Hawaii tracking station looks to continue mastering space, now and into the future.

21st SOPS Det. 3, Kaena Point Tracking Station celebrates its 60th anniversary
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