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Satellite Ops
Cadet 1st Class Kathryn Blythe (left) and Cadet 2nd Class Chris Hassa (right) explain FaclonSAT-5 operations to Gen. William Shelton during his visit to the Academy's Department of Astronautics Jan. 24, 2011. General Shelton, the commander of Air Force Space Command and a 1976 Academy graduate who majored in astronautical engineering, received briefings on the FalconSAT and FalconLAUNCH programs at the Academy. Cadet Blythe is the FalconSAT-5 program manager, and Cadet Hassa is a FalconSAT-5 satellite operator. (U.S. Air Force photo/Rachel Boettcher)
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Cadets provide program insight to AFSPC commander

Posted 1/28/2011   Updated 1/28/2011 Email story   Print story


Academy Department of Astronautics

1/28/2011 - U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. -- The commander of Air Force Space Command visited with cadets to get a firsthand look at what they do in the Astronautical Engineering Department Jan. 24.

Gen. William Shelton, a 1976 Academy graduate who majored in astronautical engineering during his cadet days, spent more than an hour with the cadets and staff touring the Space Systems Research Center facilities and getting detailed insight on FalconSAT-3 and FalconSAT-5 satellite operations.

After being greeted by Astronautics Department head Col. Marty France and retired Col. Jack Anthony, FalconSAT operations leader, General Shelton met the cadets who are directly responsible for FalconSAT operations.

The visit coincided with preparation for that afternoon's FalconSAT-5 passes over the Academy's ground control station. This gave the general a look at how directly the cadets are involved with the hands-on satellite operations.

"I really enjoyed having my crew talk the general through a FalconSAT-5 pass," said Cadet 1st Class Kathryn Blythe, the FalconSAT-5 program manager. "I saw his eyebrows lift a few times when I showed him how we check our displays and quickly respond to realtime data."

The general also took note of the faculty mentorship. While faculty are not there to command satellite operations, they provide guidance to the cadets.

After the FalconSAT-5 demonstration, General Shelton was introduced to the FalconSAT-3 program. Cadet 1st Class Brian Farmer, the FalconSAT-3 program manager, teamed up with Cadet 2nd Class Stephen Gillespie and Cadet 3rd Class Heather Udell to guide the general through mission procedures.

"I heard Colonel Anthony encouraging the general to come back and get trained in a FalconSAT crew position," Cadet Udell said. "I hope he comes back soon. I'm ready to be his instructor."

Cadet 1st Class Aaron Blore reviewed plans for the FalconLAUNCH sounding rocket program with General Shelton and discussed the planned static test firing scheduled for later in the semester.

"Meeting General Shelton was great," said Cadet Blore, who will become a space and missile operator in AFSPC after graduation. "The boss already knows me and understands the experience we bring to active duty from the Astro Department."

Following his tours, General Shelton addressed the 47 senior cadets enrolled in the Astronautics Capstone course. He emphasized that, as technical leaders in the Air Force, their word will be trusted and put to the test in critical engineering and operational situations.

The general earned some mementoes for sharing his time with the Astro Department that included an Astro Coin and a collection of FalconSAT patches.

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