Following the flawless launch of the second Advanced Extremely High Frequency satellite May 4, by the 45th Space Wing at Patrick AFB, Fla., the U.S. Air Force and Lockheed Martin successfully completed the Liquid Apogee Engine phase of orbit raising May 14.
During this phase, the LAE and satellite propulsion subsystem performed as expected, and orbital parameters are consistent with mission plans.
According to Col. Michael Sarchet, the AEHF program manager, “This success marks the completion of approximately 60 percent of AEHF-2’s total orbit raising activity. Another reason this phase of orbit raising is so important is because it raised the satellite above the Van Allen radiation belts and region of space with the densest space debris.”
Building on the Liquid Apogee Engine orbit raising phase Monday, the Air Force and Lockheed Martin also successfully completed AEHF-2’s solar array deployment. The solar arrays are performing as expected and as designed.
The Hall Current Thruster orbit raising phase will begin in the next few days. This final orbit raising phase decreases the satellite’s apogee and increases its perigee, effectively transferring the satellite from an inclined elliptical to a circular, geosynchronous orbit. After arrival in geosynchronous orbit, the payload will be deployed and activated, which will then enable the start of AEHF-2 on-orbit testing.
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. The AEHF system is the follow-on to the Milstar system, augmenting, improving and expanding the Department of Defense’s military satellite communications systems architecture.
AEHF-2 was procured from Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company by the MILSATCOM Systems Directorate, part of the Air Force Space Command’s Space and Missile Systems Center. Air Force Space Command 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.