VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. --
The 30th Space Wing and 45th Space Wing launch training teams recently came together to gain further understanding of each other's training programs.
The main focus of the Vandenberg and Cape Canaveral Air Force Base collaboration was to discuss ways to synergize and standardize training for both coasts as well as introduce new training tools.
“One of these new tools included a Virtual Reality training capability. The 45th SW has been developing this VR tool for our Mission Assurance teams.” said Maj. Joseph Hoatam, 45th Launch Support Squadron Operations Support Flight commander.
The VR tool potentially enables Air Force Responsible Engineers (AFREs) and Mission Assurance Technicians (MATs) to increase the flexibility, quality, responsiveness and agility of their training. The tool enables AFREs and MATs to familiarize themselves with operations and perform anomaly resolution at the launch site.
"Our purpose when we go out to view these operations is to verify procedures are being done correctly," said 2nd Lt. Matthew Preszler, 1st ASTS launch vehicle engineer trainer. "There are a lot of safety hazards during operations. There's a lot of regulation behind safety. If they don't understand that ahead of time, they could find themselves in a really tight pinch with lifting and moving hardware, or interfering with contractor progress at launch sites."
A real-world observation of a payload encapsulation can take approximately four hours to complete. With the VR tool, the training can be shortened down to ten minutes. Upon further updates, the VR training scenarios can potentially introduce trainees to multiple anomalies or irregularities, subsequently saving time and resources.
"The AFRE and MAT training programs are critical to our country's space lift capability," said Capt. Wayne Urubio, 1st ASTS chief of training. "Space lift is a risky business. In fact, it is the riskiest part of a space vehicle's program. During launch processing activities, MATs provide technical insight ensuring launch vehicles are put together correctly. If there are any process deviations, AFREs will analyze these deviations to ensure there are no increased risks impacting the launch campaign."
The capability demonstrates the ability to augment the existing training model by further honing attention to detail, enhancing critical thinking skills, become less intrusive to our launch service providers, and prepare teams to support cross-coast utilization. This collaboration postures both launch teams to support each other in the face of manning constraints and an increased launch mission tempo.
"If this program is fully realized, it will enable us to see Vandenberg's and Cape Canaveral Air Force Base's launch sites and processes," said Preszler. "We'll have more synergy in training and a better allocation of resources across the coasts."