By Marcus Hill | 50th Space Wing Public Affairs
SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — The 1st Space Operations Squadron completed a trial period in December for the Geosynchronous Space Situational Awareness Program ground system and conducted an operational acceptance Feb. 12.
The GSSAP ground system, which allows operators to communicate with and control GSSAP spacecraft, became operational in September 2015.
In 2017, 1st SOPS began working on the software overhaul for the system. While GSSAP regularly undergoes minor updates, the trial period allowed 1st SOPS to test and validate system improvements prior to accepting the new system.
“There have been a series of robust security upgrades,” said Capt. Bradley Frost, 1st SOPS satellite engineer. “There have been new hardware and bug fixes that have significantly increased the reliability of the system. To sum it up, it’s better, faster and more secure than ever before.”
Lt. Col. Bryan Bell, 1st SOPS commander, noted how the upgrade is one of the most significant of the ground systems since its inception and Capt. Zachary Funke, 1st SOPS engineer, echoed those sentiments.
“This upgrade is important for the future of the program because of the future expansion of the GSSAP constellation,” Funke said. “GSSAP plays an important space defense role in the US Space Force’s arsenal. Space domain awareness is critical to the enterprise.”
In order for GSSAP to operate at an efficient level, ground operations need to be as effective as the hardware in space.
“The more functions that reside on the ground, the more we can stay updated as technology increases and operational demands increase,” Frost said. “Surface level, it looks like a room of computers and server racks with fiber running every which way. But it is this set of hardware, and the software loaded onto it, that enables our operators to plan and execute daily tasks.”
The engineering team at 1st SOPS played a role in communicating and delivering information to the system program office.
“We were involved in providing feedback to the contractor team during development to make sure the right product was being delivered,” Frost said. “The engineering team is critical in coordinating the installation and checkout of the new ground system. This includes verifying new features work as advertised and completing regression testing.”