22nd SOPS supports CloudSat launch

NASA's CloudSat and CALIPSO - Cloud-Aerosol Lidar and Infrared Pathfinder Satellite Observations - launched from here April 28 atop a Delta II rocket. The 22nd Space Operations Squadron at Schriever Air Force Base provided Air Force Satellite Control Network support for the mission. (U.S. Air Force photo by Thom Baur, Boeing)

NASA's CloudSat and CALIPSO - Cloud-Aerosol Lidar and Infrared Pathfinder Satellite Observations - launched from here April 28 atop a Delta II rocket. The 22nd Space Operations Squadron at Schriever Air Force Base provided Air Force Satellite Control Network support for the mission. (U.S. Air Force photo by Thom Baur, Boeing)

SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- The 22nd Space Operations Squadron here provided critical Air Force Satellite Control Network support for NASA’s CloudSat and CALIPSO launch April 28.

The launch required support from six AFSCN sites, including remote tracking stations here and at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., where the Delta II rocket carrying the satellites launched.

“Our nation depends on space systems, and these space systems depend on the AFSCN,” said Lt. Col. Mike Moran, 22nd SOPS commander.

“Our entire team worked very hard to help make this launch successful,” said Maj. Karilynne Wallace, 22nd SOPS Detachment 1 commander at Vandenberg AFB. “It’s typical of the great work the whole team here and across the AFSCN does—often in the background—to help our part of every launch be successful.”

Specific support for this mission includes spacecraft tracking, telemetry and commanding for the three-year projected mission duration, said Capt. Earl Chang, an AFSCN mission commander with 22nd SOPS. Support for the launch included receiving, recording and relaying telemetry and voice communications.

Throughout April, 22nd SOPS scheduled several series of dataflow tests with all AFSCN sites, Captain Chang said. Members of 22nd SOPS, the 50th Space Communications Squadron and the controlling space operations center worked together to research and fix any problems they found during the tests.

“Any breakdown of AFSCN readiness could cause the launch to be postponed,” Captain Chang said.

The launch faced several delays before lifting off Friday for such reasons as high winds and technical problems with the satellite’s sensor equipment.
“Fortunately, 22nd SOPS’ resources were always ready in all respects to support the launch,” Captain Chang said.

CloudSat and CALIPSO—short for Cloud-Aerosol Lidar and Infrared Pathfinder Satellite Observations—will study how clouds form and affect the environment.

“CloudSat will answer basic questions about how rain and snow are produced by clouds, how rain and snow are distributed worldwide, and how clouds affect the earth's climate,” said Dr. Graeme Stephens, CloudSat principal investigator and a professor at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colo.

Other recent 22nd SOPS supports have included ST-5, a constellation of three micro-satellites that will study the earth’s magnetic field; the New Horizons probe, which will study Pluto, Charon and objects in the distant reaches of the Solar System; and the Space Shuttle Discovery’s “Return to Flight,” STS-114, which evaluated new flight safety techniques.