AF Modifies AEHF Orbit-Raising Plan and Recoups Anomaly Cost [Los Angeles Times]


     “LOS ANGELES AIR FORCE BASE, EL SEGUNDO, CALIF. — U.S. Strategic Command has approved Air Force Space Command’s modification of the orbit-raising plan designed to transfer the first Advanced Extremely High Frequency space vehicle to its geosynchronous orbit.  Furthermore, the Air Force has secured consideration from Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company to recoup anomaly costs through productivity improvements.

     “To further optimize fuel usage during the orbit-raising process, the timeline for orbit-raising has been extended from Aug. 31 to Oct. 3, 2011, enabling a more efficient Hall Current Thruster burn strategy. This extension does not affect the initial operational capability date and provides additional fuel reserves to support potential future contingency operations. 

     “To address the costs associated with the modified orbit-raising plan, SMC and Lockheed Martin SSC have agreed to a $15 million reduction in available award fee and a contract restructure that incentivizes cost performance by the contractor team that will offset anomaly investigation and recovery costs. This restructure is consistent with ongoing DoD initiatives to improve weapon system affordability.

     “Shortly after launch Aug. 14, 2010, an anomaly in its bi-propellant propulsion system thwarted the satellite’s baseline plan to achieve its operational orbit.  A joint SMC/Lockheed Martin team quickly developed a work-around plan enabling the satellite to reach its operational orbit.  The satellite is expected to achieve full mission life and capability.  The orbit-raising process for AEHF SV-1 using the Hall Current Thruster propulsion system is proceeding well.  As of June 6, AEHF SV-1 perigee altitude had been increased to 28,187 km and the inclination reduced to ~6.2 degrees.  AEHF’s HCTs are built by Aerojet of Redmond, Wash.

     “AEHF is a joint service satellite communications system that will provide survivable, global, secure, protected, and jam-resistant communications for high-priority military ground, sea and air assets. The AEHF System is the follow-on to the Milstar system, augmenting and improving on the capabilities of Milstar, and expanding the MILSATCOM architecture.  AEHF is developed by the MILSATCOM Systems Directorate, which develops, acquires and sustains space-based global communications in support of the President, Secretary of Defense and combat forces.”