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3 SOPS LEO team earns quarterly award

SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Four members of 3rd Space Operations Squadron earned the Space and Missile Systems Center/Military Satellite Communications Directorate team of the quarter award.

Last month, 1st Lt. Joseph Cha, 2nd Lt. Joshua Winningham, Senior Airman Justin Yeager and Airman 1st Class David Smith, all members of 3 SOPS' Launch and Early Orbit team were part of a larger team responsible for the successful Wideband and Global SATCOM-7 satellite launch July 23 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida.

All ten divisions of Military Satellite Communications Systems Directorate are eligible for the quarterly nomination. The selection process is very competitive and includes knowledge-based tests and problem-solving simulation scenarios. Nominated teams are recognized for their significant contributions to execute Wideband Satellite Communication Division's mission to provide space-based communication to tactical warfighters. Teams were judged based on accomplishments, training, improvements and contributions to the organization.

Charlotte Gerhart, MCW division chief and WGS program manager, submitted the nomination for the 3 SOPS LEO team based on the commitment the team provided leading up to the satellite launch.

"Preparation for launch begins as soon as we start production of a satellite, but the most intensive period begins about eight months before launch," said Gerhart. "Exercises for the team, support day of launch and subsequent satellite orbit raising, testing and finally operational use of the satellite are conducted prior to launch to ensure we are completely ready for launch... this includes ensuring that the satellite and launch vehicle are ready, including the ground systems and personnel necessary to operate the satellite."

3 SOPS LEO team's participation impacts satellite launch operations because of their training in monitoring command executions.

"For 3 SOPS specifically, they provide personnel who assist in the satellite orbit raising and testing phase post launch that Boeing executes, and subsequently 3 SOPS also flies the entire WGS constellation after the successful completion of initial on-orbit test through the end of the WGS mission life. To be ready to support the satellite orbit raising and testing phase post launch, mission personnel were trained and certified, including the execution of a full mission simulation prior to launch, which took nearly three months to complete," said Gerhart.

Cha, the team leader, sees the award as an opportunity to demonstrate the expertise and dedication 3 SOPS LEO team members devotes to supporting the space mission.

"I was very fortunate to work with the members on this team," said Cha. "Josh, Justin and David are some of the brightest guys in the squadron, hence the reason they were selected for the team.  Additionally, their flexibility helped tremendously during some of the more demanding phases in the mission and for that I am extremely grateful."
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