Slight Pressure on the Brakes

The first Advanced Extremely High Frequency military communications satellite will arrive at its orbital slot in late October, announced Air Force space officials. That’s a slight schedule slip from the early October date that they projected in June. They made the decision to slow down the process of raising AEHF-1 into its proper orbital geosynchronous position in order “to balance operational needs, space environmental factors, and vehicle conditions,” according to a Space and Missile Systems Center release. The Air Force and its industry partners launched AEHF-1 into space in August 2010. A satellite propulsion anomaly forced Air Force and contractor engineers to devise an alternate orbital-positioning plan using different thrusters. Speaking last month in National Harbor, Md., Air Force Space Command boss Gen. William Shelton said the Air Force is “very fortunate” that the anomaly “didn’t cause the satellite to explode.” He added, “The good news is that we project full mission life once we get the satellite into orbit,” meaning 14 years of service.