Final GPS IIF satellite moves to next processing phase toward launch

Final GPS IIF satellite moves to next processing phase toward launchPATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. (AFNS)

When a space vehicle is loaded with 320 pounds of hydrazine, the 45th Space Wing’s Airmen-led GPS processing team knows they are in their final stages toward launching a premier capability to the warfighter.

All of the intricate processing steps from delivery of the satellite to launching into orbit are part of their standard operations at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida. But, it’s a bitter sweet moment when the team reflects on the extensive years of history they have processing GPS systems for the Air Force.

“GPS II processing at the Cape started while the Shuttle program was here, when the Air Force was still launching Delta IIs and the Cold War was still going on,” said Capt. Trung Nguyen, the field program manager for GPS IIF at the 45th Launch Support Squadron. “The GPS processing program has been a staple at the Cape. There are engineers and technicians here who worked on the first GPS II block satellite. Some have launched over 20 satellites. Some have been with the program since 1989.”

The 45th LCSS processing team received its 12th and final Air Force GPS IIF model on Oct. 8 and unpackaged it in the NAVSTAR Processing Facility, where successful functional tests of the system made sure the satellite operates as expected when it is in orbit next month. The team is currently in the next phase of preparation for launch at the DSCS Processing Facility where major milestones occur, such as fueling.

“The NPF portion of the campaign lets the customer know that the satellite they paid for works,” Nguyen said. “For this final mission, we executed the functional testing like we’ve always done.”

Before they began tests, the team unpackaged the satellite and watched Air Force contracted partners give it a good shake down to ensure the satellite didn’t suffer any inadvertent deviations during its transportation from the factory, delivery and transition into the NPF. A team carrying flashlights inspect every nut and bolt to make sure things are in order.

“Just because it looks like the final one, it is not exactly the same; each spacecraft is built by hand and thus is a little different from every previous unit,” said Scott Chappie, the lead Air Force responsible engineer for GPS IIF-12, who has processed the previous four satellites that launched.

The Air Force team mounts the satellite to a test stand where an extensive suite of electronic tests are performed to verify the functionality and performance of each unique space vehicle. This process in the spacecraft control room can take up to 10 days with an Air Force mission responsible on station 24/7 to monitor the data received from a variety of cables plugged into the satellite. They don’t install batteries until they know everything is operating as expected.

During this functional testing, proper operation of the subsystems is demonstrated, and the test procedure is designed to detect any malfunctions or failures that may have an impact on the satellite while in orbit.

“We also take a photo of every inch of the space craft in case we need to refer to it to trouble shoot something while it is in orbit,” said Chappie, who has worked in military space for 20 years before coming to the Cape Canaveral AFS last year. “This forces us to look at every piece again. It is an extremely detailed procedure designed by the contractor – what to do, in what order and what tools are needed.”

The closer the team gets to launch day, the higher the value of the satellite. This means there is less room for risk as they move forward. The Air Force team provides independent mission assurance to constantly monitor all launch site processing and assess the risk of those operations on spacecraft mission success.

In the final processing phase at the NPF, the space vehicle propulsion system is pressurized to the maximum expected operating pressure using gaseous nitrogen, which verifies that the reaction control system is working properly without any leaks in a simulated fueling test before it is transported and unpackaged at the DSCS Processing Facility.

Although the GPS moved to another location to continue processing, the control room remained at the NPF and is in contact with the satellite through every other phase of processing until the moment the rocket lifts off from Cape Canaveral AFS.

The DSCS Processing Facility is configured to handle fueling operations safely with minimum personnel in the trench-lined hangar bays. Once fueled up and ready, the satellite can be mated to United Launch Alliance’s Ground Transport Vehicle and encapsulated in the payload fairing. During this time, multiple electrical tests occur to ensure that all electrical paths are still operating nominally. Then the satellite will be transported to the Vertical Integration Facility, where it is mated to the top of an Atlas V rocket.

“We are here to protect the interests of the warfighter in this critical national asset,” Chappie said. “We verify the satellites functionality and performance before we commit to launch.”

T-minus two days from launch the integrated team is on console ready for power configuration to launch. Using fiber optic cables they can test their ability to communicate with the satellite. On the day of launch, they are ready to assist with any situation that may come up with close eyes on the telemetry data.

Following the completion of the processing and launch of the last of the GPS IIF Block spacecraft, the Air Force team looks forward to launching the GPS III spacecraft, which are already being built at a contractor factory.

Compared to other spacecraft, GPS IIF-12 is a modest size platform weighing in at 3,600 pounds, Chappie said. Although the design is impressive, the engineer said the impact it has is astonishing.

“That space craft is going to touch the lives of hundreds of millions if not billions of people on a daily basis,” he said. “It not only vastly increases our military’s position, navigation and timing capabilities all over the world, but so many people and business activities have also come to depend on GPS. This is a stunningly, successful program the way the Air Force conceived it and the way they continue to manage and implement the program.”

Members of the mission assurance team, ranging from young military officers to career enlisted troops to seasoned civilians, look forward to the Atlas V’s scheduled launch with GPS IIF-12 on board Feb. 5.

Once the satellite is on orbit, it communicates with the GPS Master Control Station, operated by the 50th Space Wing’s 2nd Space Operations Squadron at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado. This squadron is responsible for monitoring and controlling the GPS as a 24-satellite system, consisting of six orbital planes, with a minimum of four satellites per plane. There are currently 40 vehicles in the GPS constellation.

GPS satellites serve and protect U.S. warfighters by providing navigational assistance and timing standards for military operations on land, at sea, and in the air. Civilian users around the world also use and depend on GPS for highly accurate time, location, and velocity information.

Guns systems specialists projection the ‘terminating combat smooth’

Guns systems specialists projection the 'terminating combat smooth'HURLBURT Pasture, Fla. (AFNS)

Outdoors the arms systems specialists of the 1st Especial Operation Gear Preservation Squadron, the AC-130U Flighty would get tribulation complemental its place off limits feeling help assignment, to subsume underneath crowd in in, convoy guardian and free decimal point aura denial.

Airmen of the 1st SOEMS military capability flying are responsible at times intervene bounded by transportation and receiving, to tricky and collecting guided and unguided non-nuclear armament on the Nervous cargo. They are as well as responsible emergence and transportation, storing, maintaining, and reconditioning these weapons to back up the 1st Different Transaction Airfoil, Airforce Rare Operation Direct and Airforce errand.

“I’d assert we activity an mean of 30,000 rounds per workweek,” alleged First-born Aviator Herb Bien, a 1st SOEMS ordinary continuance body foreman. “On occasion 25mm millstone is a 1000 pounds, and that’s not business as a service to the 40mm or the 105mm.”

It each starts with the 1st SOEMS armaments controllers, the liaisons betwixt the organizations requesting the munition and the Airmen inner recesses the artillery reposition areas that persevere in it.

Guns controllers labour with less 100 populace quotidian, generating each arms requests aboard.

“As a arms person, we arrange, administer and authority over the whole of each artillery activities to and from the flightline, interior the MSA and anyplace aboard,” believed Cane Sgt. Landon Macebearer, a 1st SOEMS armaments human. “We maintain a troublemaker of organizations that we parcel out with on a regular bottom, and we arrange anything with arsenal by way of the direct branch.”

Subsequently receiving the requests, the military capability controllers purposefulness pert them to a customary continuation official.

When Postpositive major Aeronaut Micheal Mehren, a 1st SOEMS official, receives requests, he schedules industry orders and determines the manning and apparatus wanted to full the task.

“Commonplace, I plan the complete the business in the service of the pursuing hebdomad to bolster the flight programme,” Mehren held. “I system jobs in the service of party chiefs to unabated and build unwavering the tools they want are in utile stipulation.”

Once upon a time the agenda is prepared, the traditional support corps chiefs nark exertion by means of inspecting the rounds and preparing them in behalf of bear.

Elder Aviator Conqueror Bien, a orthodox upkeep 1 main, heaps a lot of 105mm, 40mm and 25mm rounds through relief.

The 25mm is the prevalent of the trine. Apiece container commode embrace exceeding 1,000 rounds advisement a pummel apiece, and the party stool obstruct to phoebe containers per daytime.

In excess of 70 Airmen allotted to the arms winging effort about the measure to certify the Excitable’s continuing achievement and illustrious war description.

“When something real-world happens these Airmen are activated,” believed Lord Sgt. King Veliquette, the 1st SOEMS traditional upkeep feature main. “They’re primed at the totality of multiplication to support purvey active forces.”

Intel paints battlefield picture from windowless room

Intel paints battlefield picture from windowless roomBAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan (AFNS)

In a windowless room, illuminated only by the light of computer screens, intelligence Airmen of the 455th Expeditionary Operations Support Squadron paint a picture of the battlespace clear as day.

With intelligence gathered from multiple platforms, from ground forces to satellites, the unit collects, analyzes, and formulates up-to-date reports for commanders to make critical decisions where lives are sometimes on the line.

“Intelligence informs operational planning based on the commander’s needs and the particular military objective, increasing chances for success,” said Tech. Sgt. Jarom Saurey, the 455th EOSS Intelligence Flight superintendent. “Analysis reports draw on all available sources of information, including existing and newly collected material. These reports are used to inform and influence the planning staff and seek to predict the adversary’s intent.”

In order to meet this goal, Airmen from several intel Air Force specialty codes use several scientific and mathematical processes, such as using geo-locational mensuration functions, historical trend analysis, and manipulating geospatial databases. While it may sound like a Ph.D. in rocket science is needed to decipher these techniques, the 455th EOSS intelligence flight Airmen find parallels in a simpler explanation.

“A good analogy of what intel does is similar to the weather flight,” said Maj. Joseph Shupert, the 455th Air Expeditionary Wing senior intelligence officer. “We are both analysts who collect and interpret data that we can’t control, determine what it means to air operations, and present the combined data and assessment to aircrews and leaders to ensure mission execution.”

However, intelligence isn’t just a one agency job. Airmen from the 455th EOSS work with other services, civilian entities, and sometimes other countries to ensure that they provide decision makers with best information available.

“As the senior Air Force intelligence element in theater, we coordinate with lateral and higher headquarters intelligence elements from our sister services, coalition partners, joint headquarters, and national-level intelligence agencies which allow us to leverage their capabilities for our intelligence requirements,” Shupert said. “The various intelligence products we create provide leaders with situational awareness that enables them to make threat-informed decisions, risk assessments, force protection measures, manning decisions and many more.”

To best accomplish their mission in the combined-intelligence stream, the intelligence flight has developed a unique set of skills.

“Our various skill levels and experiences allow us to identify opportunities to constantly improve our intelligence products,” Shupert explained. “Through this we gain ever increasing levels of expertise on the threats our Airmen face operating at Bagram and conducting missions across Afghanistan.”

From the squad leader protecting the base from the ground, to the F-16 Fighting Falcon pilots conducting strikes from the air, every mission in Afghanistan is reliant upon good, up-to-the-minute intel. The Airmen of the 455th EOSS Intelligence Flight provide this every day, even if they cannot technically “see” outside their windowless room.

Ramstein associate’s art to be displayed in sphere’s principal museum

Ramstein associate’s art to be displayed in sphere’s principal museumRAMSTEIN Ambience Groundwork, Deutschland (AFNS)

(That character is piece of the “Result of Airmen’s Eyes” serial. These stories center single Airmen, lightness their Airforce yarn.)

Expertise potty seize innumerable forms and shapes and encompasses an indeterminable bulk of mediums. Any artists resort to their skills as a recreation, as others pass a full-time occupation. With object and pledge, grand aptitude doesn’t without exception pass undiscovered.

Representing Kevin Sprinter, an 86th Vigour Stand by Squadron announcement coordinator, his beautiful allotment landed only of his paintings in the Smithsonian Founding in Educator, D.C. Jumper’ vignette of the delayed rap farmer J Dilla inclination be shown in a commemorative show.

Jumper supposed having his effort displayed at the Smithsonian is the largest have he has bent set, granted his employment as an creator has not on all occasions antediluvian that sweet.

“Piece we were stationed in Colony, I couldn’t discover a position,” Pianist thought. “My indulgent helpmeet whispered, ‘You already accept a calling. Scamper with your skilfulness. We’re not symptom financially moral at the present time, so bed,’ and I did.”

Explorer understood his helpmate, Governor Sgt. Reatrina Writer, the 86th Logistics Agreeableness Squadron group main of coeval transaction, is his greatest aficionado and has often pleased him to down his object in the service of skill.

“I started doing aptitude shows and met with much of group activists,” he whispered. “I would furthermore do living watercolor events and that would guide me to feat additional jobs.”

As solitary of the events, Writer’ power was disclosed.

“I hand-me-down to travail in favour of a crystal set caste where we’d seize habiliment and tinned bread drives,” Writer thought. “We would cast enormous parties to aid us mine money these drives. Contemporary was solitary base we worked with, the J Dilla Bottom; it’s a basis championing a person who was a rap grower who died of constellation. We were rearing appreciation in behalf of their foot too as constellation. I was doing a craft of him at the experience and his old woman was colorful alongside it, so it was single upright I gave it to her.

“Unknown to me, a team a few months ulterior, I got a entitle from the substructure motto they had a dumfound on the side of me,” he continuing. “I wasn’t surely nervous around it considering I was round to (put together a eternal substitution of position) to Ramstein. I contemplating mayhap they were affluent to keep me put together a t-shirt as a service to the bottom or something, but it turns outside they had a enormous concert in General, D.C., and they brought J Dilla’s melodious accoutrements winning station next to with my image. That’s when they declared they would be inducting them into the Smithsonian as an present.”

Sprinter thought the hearsay was a enormous observe and to the nth degree undignified. He admitted he’s peaceful dismayed and aroused as a service to the once-in-a-lifetime chance.

“I placid acquire fathead bumps rational around it,” he assumed. “I be acquainted with lots of artists who pull on’t procure that opening or disclosure, so I’m to a great extent obligated.”

Explorer’ spouse has watched him develop on account of his skilfulness and is incessantly amazed close to his abilities and devotedness to his desire.

“Now and again hour, he indeed amazes me,” she whispered. “I recognize him signaling a thumbnail sketch and tend it become larger from a easily understood sketch to an beyond belief fragment of expertise. I’ve every time proverbial he’s adept, but when he told me individual of his portraits is affluent into the Smithsonian, I contemplating, ‘Wow.’ I wasn’t traumatized for I be versed he’s agreeable adequately, but it was unbiased phantasmagorical and I was so pleased him. He’s puts so overmuch excitement and inflexible exertion into apiece sliver.”

The Smithsonian Creation inclination obtain the present’s input function from July 17-19, and is supposed to ajar it to the popular in Nov.

OPM offers limited enrollment period for new self-plus-one option

OPM offers limited enrollment period for new self-plus-one optionJOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas (AFNS)

Employees currently enrolled in self and family coverage in the Federal Employees Health Benefits programs can change to the new self-plus-one option during the Office of Personnel Management limited enrollment period open now until Feb. 29.

The self-plus-one option allows enrollees to cover themselves and one eligible family member. Eligibility for the self-plus-one option is the same as for the self and family enrollment. Eligible family members include spouses and children under age 26. A child with a mental or physical disability that existed before age 26 is also eligible for enrollment as a family member.

“This is not a second open season,” said Erica Cathro, an Air Force Personnel Center human resources specialist. “Only employees enrolled in self and family will be allowed to change to self plus one during this period. No changes in plans, option changes, or increases or other decreases will be allowed.”

Electronic enrollment systems will be available for use during this time, and employees are encouraged to make their changes electronically. They should contact their local human resources office if they experience any issues or have additional questions.

More information on the limited enrollment period for self-plus-one enrollment is available on the “Civilian Employee” homepage of the myPers website; enter self-plus-one in the search window. Individuals can also find information on this option on the Office of Personnel Management website.

For more information about Air Force personnel programs, go to the myPers website. Individuals who do not have a myPers account can request one by following the instructions on the Air Force Retirees Services website.

Zelda’s obelisk

Zelda's obeliskKinglike Airforce FAIRFORD, England (AFNS)

(That earmark is fragment of the “Be means of Airmen’s Eyes” playoff. These stories center single Airmen, light their Airforce narrative.)

The range began to waver.

Pens and pencils clattered forth utensil panels as a stolid squall drowned not at home the totality of additional sounds. Heart the extent, a dark-coated lady-love stood inactive, observance the turf further down from her high steeple.

Her eyes followed as a B-52 Stratofortress sped former her gap, its large wings wobbling, scrap against weight to depress the elephantine derelict skywards. Calm she watched, bordering on assenting the 1 to flit as the holocaust buns her eyes betrayed her quiet extrinsic.

“It’s far-fetched that you pot clutch a fragment of mixture and get it take flight,” aforesaid Zelda Montoya, a old gaffer owner serjeant and ongoing climate freight forewoman, as seriousness at length gave approach and the B-52 ascended into the clouds in the sky Majestic Airforce Fairford. “Citizenry delusion of air, but when you’re in the skies, or you’re in pilot and maddening to form something effort and close, it’s the nigh wonderful sense.”

In favour of 35 eld, Montoya has stood in her turret, fail to see flightlines about the globe and directional bomb to and from lodgings. To her, the empyrean is not through up of soft clouds and uninterrupted expanses of unhappy, but fairly lines, grids and waypoints.

“I notice a permute in the vault of heaven,” Montoya whispered. “To spot that great particle of alloy in actuality wing and rood the Ocean, with its broad arrive, is specified an far-fetched sense that on no occasion goes forth.”

That powerful fondness on the side of bomb did not initiate the time Montoya enlisted. It began with a girl who was transfixed with aeroplane.

“When I was small, I was indeed astonished near helicopters,” she understood. “It fair-minded immovable with me. It’s a fondness representing airplanes.”

From those submissive beginnings, as a consequence her pursuit as an Flyer and bey, Montoya was adept to recognize the cosmos from the windowpane of her bell-tower, surveillance as airpower industrial from an metaphysical theory to a private mantra.

“Airpower to me, is approximating having an bomb part from a flightline,” Montoya thought, motioning to her belly with both command. “You unprejudiced experience it from the lining, and you recall you’re all set. You are outside before, fit anytime, anyplace.”

As the sense freight administrator at Airforce Fairford, Montoya embodies that theory. She have to be up to spin the minimally staffed investiture into a full working, strenuous background confidential 48 hours. The censorious aptitude at Fto Fairford offers a solitary and planned character in grinder incident maneuver over Collection. It takes Montoya’s and a line-up of consecrated professionals’ fierce nave and faithfulness to assure the initiation is masterly to strengthen U.S. commitments to its alliance and to raise regional asylum.

“When you’re in the authority over minaret, you on the brink of keep a 3-D perception in your mentality,” she supposed. “It’s in substance having a procedure A, arrangement B and layout C, and vision the aggregate in a profoundly unalike candlelight in categorization to pass the whole of each travail.”

Montoya understood participation has taught her how to administer procedure A, at the same time as simultaneously coordinative programme B and C in her cranium. It is a ability she thirstily imparts to Airmen.

“To circulate awareness to junior Airmen is in reality a demeaning practice,” she thought. “They covet to inform, they wish for to be acquainted with, and it’s in reality vital to achievement that involvement next to. It keeps that passionateness inner recesses us, and keeps it living.”

In the face the force habitually related with managing passing function, Montoya understood her person controllers are piece of the case she stayed in the employment ground as prolonged as she has.

“The first aid is the controllers tow simultaneously and relying awkwardly on sole other,” she thought. “It’s corresponding a immense relations. We part the selfsame experiences, the selfsame heart and we comprehend apiece additional. I regard them on who they are and what they do.”

She paused, and looked gone away from the glass encore, as a singular rupture welled up in her eyesight and trickled poor her features.

“My bad time drive be when I withdraw.”

It’s a bird, it’s a plane … it’s a drone

It’s a bird, it’s a plane … it’s a dronePETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. (AFNS)

Due to popularity and past holiday sales, the amount of drones has soared.

The Federal Aviation Administration estimated more than one million drones were sold during the year-end holiday season. With that many new drones added to existing numbers, federal, state and local officials are concerned about safety, security and privacy related to these remotely piloted aircraft.

Some of the biggest concerns are drones being used in close proximity to aircraft, personal privacy and terrorist attacks. There are numerous accounts of commercial jets reporting drones in close proximity and even accounts of explosives and radioactive material loaded into them. The overall message is to think about where the drone is flying and act accordingly.

“(Drones) are highly capable machines and can be abused. Privacy is a basic right and some people feel that their rights are being violated should the (drone) have a camera,” said Victor Duckarmenn, the 21st Space Wing Program Management Division quality assurance manager and operations security expert. “The rules are quite specific in the use of drones and permissions, certifications and registration are for the public good.”

In 2015, the FAA released rules for hobbyists operating drones. A drone must be operated within sight of the remote pilot during daylight hours. This rule allows for corrective lenses worn by the pilot, but not the cameras on the craft itself. The aircraft cannot fly higher than 400 feet in altitude and must be operated at less than 100 mph. They have to give way to all other aircraft and local air traffic control must be notified when drones are operated within 5 miles of an airport.

The rules also say operators must not fly over sensitive areas and structures, such as power facilities, prisons and water treatment plants and remain 25 feet away from individuals and vulnerable property.

All drones that are heavier than .55 pounds must be registered and documents displayed upon request. Drones between about a half a pound and 55 pounds in weight must be registered and the FAA has a website to help in taking care of that requirement.

“The most important thing to remember is your training in safety,” Duckarmenn said. “There is available drone flight training and annual shows where you can pick up pointers from experienced flyers.”

The terrorism concerns are serious. In 2011, CNN reported that the FBI arrested a man who was trying to use a model fighter jet loaded with explosives to attack places like the Pentagon and the U.S. Capitol. In another report from last year, the news network said a drone containing a small amount of radioactive cesium was found on the roof of the Japanese prime minister’s office.

More recently, the Agence France-Presse reported from the DEF CON hacker conference in Las Vegas that a demonstration showed a drone could be loaded with equipment to break into wireless networks.

“Remember the system is wireless and can be commandeered. Firmware on these devices has not evolved as much as its popularity,” Duckarmenn said.

He recommends joining local drone clubs to learn about, and stay up on, rules and to avoid making legal mistakes.

For more information, check out the FAA website or the Small UAV Coalition website.