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Satnews Daily
November 1st, 2011

U.S.A.F... AEHF-1 Payload Progress (Satellite)

Artistic rendition of the AEHF-1 satellite
[SatNews] On-orbit testing is underway, now that initial activation has occurred...

The U.S. Air Force’s first Advanced Extremely High Frequency military communications satellite has completed initial activation of the protected communications payload and has begun on-orbit testing. As part of these critical activities, communication terminals located at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado, and M.I.T/Lincoln Labs, Massachusetts, successfully logged on to the satellite and initiated data communications between the two sites. This marks a first for this new generation of protected communications satellites.

A combined team of the U.S. Air Force, Aerospace Corporation, Lockheed Martin, and Northrop Grumman personnel applied power and performed activation for each of the communication payload subsystems from Oct. 26 – 28, 2011. This included successful deployment of the payload wings, the Gimbal Dish antennas, and the Advanced Anti-Jam Nulling antennas from their launch locked configuration. The AEHF team will now start an approximately four-month detailed test phase ensuring operational performance capabilities. The test campaign will include a period of single satellite testing followed by testing with the operational Milstar constellation. Conclusion of these activities will enable the Space and Missile Systems Center to transfer satellite command authority to 14th Air Force in early 2012.

“By the end of November we should have completed sufficient testing to confidently make the decision on whether to ship and subsequently launch SV-2 in April 2012," said Dave Madden, director of SMC's MILSATCOM Systems Directorate. "We have reached this point through the incredible work of the Air Force Space Command team, including the SMC AEHF team, 14th Air Force and 50th Space Wing.” AEHF is a joint service satellite communications system that will provide survivable, global, secure, protected, and jam-resistant communications for high-priority military ground, sea and air assets for the U.S. and international partners. The AEHF System is the follow-on to the Milstar system, augmenting, improving and expanding the MILSATCOM architecture.

AEHF is developed by the MILSATCOM Systems Directorate at Los Angeles Air Force Base, California. The MILSATCOM Systems Directorate plans, acquires and sustains space-based global communications in support of the president, secretary of defense and combat forces. The MILSATCOM enterprise consists of satellites, terminals and control stations and provides communications for more than 16,000 air, land and sea platforms.