AEHF Lessons Learned

Air Force space officials are applying the lessons learned from saving the first Advanced Extremely High Frequency satellite from failure as they prepare the second AEHF spacecraft for its scheduled launch next April, said a senior Space and Missile Systems Center official Thursday. “Because we were able to clear” the anomaly with the first AEHF spacecraft, “it enabled us to verify we don’t have that problem” on AEHF-2 as well as AEHF-3, said Dave Madden, who manages SMC’s Military Satellite Communications Systems office at Los Angeles AFB, Calif., during a media teleconference. AEHF-1 suffered a malfunction of its liquid apogee engine after the satellite reached orbit in August 2010 due to blockage in a fuel line. Madden said, as a result, SMC officials are looking at the fuel lines on the second and third satellites to ensure that they are functioning properly. “It helped on the development side to put more checks in certain processes,” he explained. He noted that SMC has also updated its concept of operations for the AEHF spacecraft so that “when we launch vehicle two, we’ll do it more effectively.”