A Remarkable Rescue Effort

The Air Force’s first Advanced Extremely High Frequency military communications satellite looked like a goner just days after its launch on Aug. 14, 2010. The $2 billion spacecraft’s main propulsion subsystem failed as controllers tried to start transferring it into its intended geosynchronous orbit. The giant satellite could have died a quick death, but it didn’t. Instead, it was the beneficiary of a remarkable USAF-led 14-month rescue effort that saw it reach its assigned orbit on Oct. 24. Now in the midst of checkout, the Air Force expects the AEHF satellite to enter full operational service early next year and function for its full planned 14-year life. Air Force Space Command officers have begun talking fairly openly about the rescue mission. To read the complete story of the recovery effort, click here.