AF Space Command adds new antennas
SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. (AFNS) -- The 50th Space Wing here earned operational acceptance for four of its remote tracking station antennas from Air Force Space Command
The Remote Tracking Station Block Change, or RBC antennas represent the latest telemetry, tracking and command technologies in the
The RBC antennas work as part of the Air Force Satellite Control Network, or AFSCN, of ground stations located around the world. These ground stations are vital to space operations because they allow satellite flyers in the
"Spacecraft owners must periodically perform telemetry, tracking and commanding supports," said
The effort to bring the RBC antennas fully online represents the first upgrade to remote tracking station antennas since
"We've earned operational acceptance for our RBCs at
The new antennas offer the AFSCN a non-keyhole environment, in other words, they can track an orbiting satellite during its entire pass over a tracking station.
"The legacy antennas moved up to 87.5 degrees, but then they have to be manually rotated to 92.5 degrees and reacquire the satellite before tracking the remainder of the pass," Bayless said. "That's just the way the old tracking mechanism worked. With the RBC antennas, we don't lose track of the satellite as it passes over. So, the new antenna gives us an additional five degrees of telemetry."
U.S. government contractors built and installed the RBC antennas at a cost of approximately
"These aren't trivial upgrades," Bayless said. "We've replaced the antennas and the hardware, software and control equipment needed to operate them."
These are just the latest AFSCN antennas to earn operational acceptance. The
"We've been turning over antennas sequentially at AFSCNs sites since then," Bayless said.
Following installation, antennas are tested and operated for a matter of time before Air Force Space Command leaders deem them ready for operational acceptance.
"Operational acceptance is a basically a formal turnover of a weapon system to the command," Bayless said. "
In the RBC's case, operational acceptance means the
"What RBC antennas allow us to do is automate satellite contacts," said Lt. Col.
Bayless said the RBC antennas also should reduce, by up to 50 percent, the time tracking stations spend preparing for a satellite pass.
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