Airmen Break New Ground in Space

Members of the 3rd Space Operations Squadron at Schriever AFB, Colo., have demonstrated a promising new way to reposition wayward satellites. This method potentially extends a satellite’s life since it requires only the spacecraft’s reaction wheels to maneuver, sparing use of the satellites’ finite store of onboard fuel for repositioning. During the demo, three 3rd SOS airmen, together with Lockheed Martin and Aerospace Corp. engineers, spun a defense satellite communication system test satellite off its axis. They then issued a series of commands to make the satellite correct itself via the reaction wheels. Lt. Col. Gregory Karahalis, 3rd SOPS operations officer, said this method increases the options for US Strategic Command to reposition DSCS satellites to support combat force needs for high-band-width communications. (Schriever report by Scott Prater)