Space Operations Command Takes Over AEHF-5 Satellite
The move reflects the Space Force’s growing role.
The Space and Missile Systems Center has transferred its fifth Advanced Extremely High Frequency satellite to the new Space Operations Command. Both the center, known as SMC, and the command, known as SpOC, fall under the new U.S. Space Force. Operators from SpOC at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado, will now retain control authority for the key military satellite communications capability, the center reported on February 12.
The SMC recently conducted successful on-orbit testing of the fifth Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF-5) system. The center launched the joint-service satellite onboard United Launch Alliance’s Atlas V rocket last August at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, which will soon be renamed Cape Canaveral Space Force Station. Nearby Patrick Air Force Base, home to the 45th Space Wing, will also receive a new moniker, Patrick Space Force Base. The AEHF-5 satellite control transition and renaming of the facilities are all part of the Space Force’s evolution as it emerges as the military’s sixth service branch.
“This significant achievement marks the final AEHF-5 milestone and the first transition of a satellite to the warfighter under the United States Space Force,” SMC stated.
The geosynchronous earth orbit-based AEHF-5 provides protected communications to high-priority military ground, sea and air users, including special operations, maneuver and support forces, space operations, intelligence and other leaders, and “continues to ensure the health of the protected satellite communications constellation and its vital national security mission,” according to the center. “AEHF provides 10 times the throughput with a substantial increase in coverage for users, satisfying the ever-growing need to provide higher rates of data to support the warfighter worldwide.”
In pursuing the AEHF satellite system, the United States partnered with Canada, United Kingdom, Netherlands and Australia. The SMC is set to launch the sixth AEHF satellite (AEHF-6) in March from Cape Canaveral, again via United Launch Alliance.
“AEHF satellites play a critical role for the warfighter and the defense of our nation. Space is fundamental to our way of life, our economy relies on space and this reliance will continue to grow,” said Col. John Dukes, USAF, senior materiel leader, Space Production Corps’ Geosynchronous Orbit Division.