SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. --
Schriever’s 3rd Space Operations Squadron directed a new mission for the Defense Satellite Communications System’s B7 satellite, providing improved communication for scientists at the National Science Foundation’s Amundsen-Scott Station at the South Pole.
Twenty-one years after its launch, the DSCS III B7 satellite adopted its new mission of supporting communication efforts for the NSF’s remote base at the South Pole, increasing connectivity in an area where communication with the rest of the world has long been a challenge.
“DSCS III B7 is the primary means of personal communications for the NSF,” said Maj. Eric Bogue, 3 SOPS director of operations. “It provides approximately four hours of coverage every day based on its highly-inclined orbit of 9.96 degrees.”
The DSCS III B7 is a vast improvement over the NSF’s Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite, increasing coverage time and bandwidth.
“The previous satellite they utilized (GOES) was riddled with issues and not very reliable,” said Bogue. “The B7 is able to provide daily and reliable coverage since being adopted by the NSF earlier this spring. We optimized all six channels for NSF use, which provides much larger bandwidth for their data.”
Providing this extended coverage to a distant area like the South Pole has drastically helped further the research of the scientists stationed there, said Bogue. The connectivity also links Scientists to their loved ones, and has helped save lives.
According to a Lockheed Martin press release, the satellite played a vital role in relaying telemedicine data for the medical evacuation of two NSF employees at the station who needed additional medical care.
The incident is indicative of the reputation the DSCS III B7 has upheld after more than two decades of orbit. The LM-built satellite launched July 31, 1995, with a 10-year design life, and remains part of the DSCS constellation, one of six DSCS satellites still in operation.
“The DSCS constellation has been a legacy workhorse for the U.S. military’s super-high frequency communications,” said Chris Ayres, Lockheed Martin Space Systems director of Operations, Sustainment and Logistics, in the LM press release. “Now operating past twice its design life, it is gratifying to see the DSCS III B7 still delivering value, providing significant return on investment by furthering scientific research and providing potentially life-saving communications with a location otherwise unreachable.”
The proven success of the DSCS III B7 serves as a testament to advances made in satellite technology, providing connectivity for scientists in one of the most isolated regions of the world.
“This communications link to the outside world is a significant morale boost to the NSF,” said Bogue. “The NSF has reached out numerous times expressing their gratitude for this capability.”