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3 SES receives historic ANGELS SCA

Col. Anthony Mastalir, 50th Space Wing vice commander, and the 3rd Space Experimentation Squadron celebrate receiving satellite control authority for the Automated Navigation and Guidance Experiment in Local Space satellite at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado, Tuesday, July 5, 2016. The satellite, more commonly referred to as ANGELS, is an experimental satellite that tests the boundaries of orbital mechanics and capabilities of space systems. (U.S. Air Force photo/Christopher DeWitt)

Col. Anthony Mastalir, 50th Space Wing vice commander, and the 3rd Space Experimentation Squadron celebrate receiving satellite control authority for the Automated Navigation and Guidance Experiment in Local Space satellite at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado, Tuesday, July 5, 2016. The satellite, more commonly referred to as ANGELS, is an experimental satellite that tests the boundaries of orbital mechanics and capabilities of space systems. (U.S. Air Force photo/Christopher DeWitt)

Lt. Col. Zachary Owen, 3rd Space Experimentation Squadron commander, addresses his team and distinguished guests during a satellite control authority transfer ceremony for the Automated Navigation and Guidance Experiment in Local Space satellite at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado, Tuesday, July 5, 2016. The transfer of satellite control authority from Air Force Research Laboratory gives the 50th Space Wing a new level of authority over the satellite to dictate tasks and commands directly to the equipment. (U.S. Air Force photo/Christopher DeWitt)

Lt. Col. Zachary Owen, 3rd Space Experimentation Squadron commander, addresses his team and distinguished guests during a satellite control authority transfer ceremony for the Automated Navigation and Guidance Experiment in Local Space satellite at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado, Tuesday, July 5, 2016. The transfer of satellite control authority from Air Force Research Laboratory gives the 50th Space Wing a new level of authority over the satellite to dictate tasks and commands directly to the equipment. (U.S. Air Force photo/Christopher DeWitt)

3rd Space Experimentation Squadron team members and distinguished guests celebrate during a satellite control authority transfer ceremony for the Automated Navigation and Guidance Experiment in Local Space satellite at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado, Tuesday, July 5, 2016. The lead-up to the transfer was a year-long training and preparation process. (U.S. Air Force photo/Christopher DeWitt)

3rd Space Experimentation Squadron team members and distinguished guests celebrate during a satellite control authority transfer ceremony for the Automated Navigation and Guidance Experiment in Local Space satellite at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado, Tuesday, July 5, 2016. The lead-up to the transfer was a year-long training and preparation process. (U.S. Air Force photo/Christopher DeWitt)

SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. --

For the first time ever, satellite control authority for the Automated Navigation and Guidance Experiment in Local Space satellite was transferred to the 3rd Space Experimentation Squadron here July 1.

The satellite, more commonly referred to as ANGELS, is an experimental satellite that tests the boundaries of orbital mechanics and capabilities of space systems.

“ANGELS is different from most of the other missions of the 50th Space Wing in that we are not operational to war fighters right now. It can be tasked, but for the most part we are an experimental satellite. It's laying the foundation for many other future experimentation missions and programs in the space community,” said 1st Lt. Brittnee Strachan, ANGELS assistant training chief.

The satellite was launched in July 2014, and has been managed by the Air Force Research Laboratory’s Space Vehicles Directorate at Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico.

The transfer of satellite control authority from AFRL gives the 50 SW a new level of authority over the satellite to dictate tasks and commands directly to the equipment.

Additionally, minor issues involving the satellite, should they arise, no longer have to be routed back to AFRL, but can be handled at the wing level.

“The transfer is giving it to space (command) and essentially a whole new chain of command and a whole new mission,” explained Strachan.

The lead-up to the transfer was a year-long training and preparation process, according to Strachan. In addition, the squadron prepared for the program by doing some remodeling of its home.

“The 3 SES took a room in their module, completely ripped it up and turned it into a (sensitive compartmented information facility) to get it ready for the ANGELS program. We had to bring in a whole new ground system and get that up and running which took several days. After that, we began flying the vehicle in May but with help from AFRL. And then for the last few weeks we've been flying it out on our own pretty much,” said Strachan.

Another vital capability the ANGELS satellite provides is image-capturing. The satellite is equipped with several cameras that test image-capturing from different distances and examine techniques for providing a clearer picture of the environment around vital space assets.

3 SES has tested the camera’s abilities by aiming the lenses directly at the sun to see what effects it would have on the equipment. This is just one of the many experiments the satellite has carried out in order to gather data to provide to the rest of the space community.

Strachan explained that the road to the transfer was not easy, and required much of the ANGELS team.

“We have done so many (temporary duties) and have been away from home and families, just working hard to get this certification done. It has been a very long process. I am super proud of how far everyone has come and how hard everyone has worked to try and get this program to where it is now,” said Strachan.

Lt. Col. Zachary Owen, 3 SES commander, in an address to his team and distinguished guests during the SCA transfer ceremony, also looked back on the journey to the transfer, as well as his optimistic outlook to the future.

“It hasn’t been the easiest road, but with that said, I think we’ve taken a ton of lessons away from this (transfer) that we’ll be able to apply to (future operations). I’m really excited for what we’re going to do. All of Air Force Space Command is excited for what we’re going to do, so this is a big deal,” said Owen.

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