23rd SOPS conducts 50K error-free support

Maj. William McGillivray, 23rd Space Operations Squadron Detachment 1 commander, presents a plaque commemorating 50,000 error-free supports to George Goodrum, Det. 1 site manager, at Thule Air Base, Greenland, Dec. 11, 2017. A support involves contacting a satellite from a ground tracking station and receiving and sending data. (Badges blurred for security purposes.) (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. David Salanitri)

Maj. William McGillivray, 23rd Space Operations Squadron Detachment 1 commander, presents a plaque commemorating 50,000 error-free supports to George Goodrum, Det. 1 site manager, at Thule Air Base, Greenland, Dec. 11, 2017. A support involves contacting a satellite from a ground tracking station and receiving and sending data. (Badges blurred for security purposes.) (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. David Salanitri)

SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. --

The 23rd Space Operations Squadron, Detachment 1, a 50th Network Operations Group geographically separated unit located at Thule, Air Base, Greenland, recently completed 50,000 supports without personnel error.

A support involves contacting a satellite from a ground tracking station and receiving and sending data. The 23rd SOPS’ mission is to operate the antennas to ensure connectivity with satellites. Each time they communicate with a satellite it qualifies as a support.   

According to Lt. Col. Kenneth Holmes, 23rd SOPS commander, the milestone is significant because it is rare across the Air Force Satellite Control Network to complete so many supports without error.

“The last time a personnel error was committed was Feb. 11, 2014,” Holmes said. “It's hard to do anything 50,000 times across almost four years without making a mistake.”

A personnel error is a mistake by an operator that causes, or could cause, a failed support.  It can be as simple as transposing digits or inputting an incorrect number.

Ultimately, the milestone is an example of how well Det. 1 is accomplishing the mission and the squadron’s operational reliability.

“Every day, the space enterprise depends on the AFSCN to accomplish its mission,” Col. Scott Angerman, 50th Network Operations Group commander said. “50,000 error-free supports is a testament to the professionalism, dedication and focus going on at Thule, they are doing a great job!”

In regard to the other units, it creates friendly competition between sites.

“All of the stations take a lot of pride in how many supports they currently have without an error,” Holmes said. “It's a number that is tracked consistently and all of the sites know some are as low as a 1,000 and it starts becoming more of a big deal when you reach 10,000 or 25,000.”

Holmes said there is a lot of pride in this accomplishment and the unit is determined to keep it going.

“We will continue executing the mission at a high level. I'm not sure if the all-time record is tracked but, 100,000 supports would be up there as a historic accomplishment,” he said.

This milestone takes on added significance due to the harsh conditions Airmen deal with at Thule.  The crews and site personnel can be stuck in place because of serve weather conditions, and they go through long periods of the year in total sunlight or total darkness.

“It's a remote location and our personnel are away from their families,” Holmes said. “Just day-to-day living is more difficult at Thule than at other locations. In spite of all the added challenges, he continued, Det. 1 was able to reach the 50,000 mark, and that is remarkable.”