U.S. Air Force Spy Satellite Communication

By    July 16, 2013

Yesterday at 2:39 pm Pacific,  the U.S. Air Force launched an Atlas 5 rocket into space for the country’s spy satellite agency from the Vandenberg Air Force Base (Vandenberg AFB). For those of you who are not familiar, Vandenberg AFB is a space and missile-testing base for the Department of Defense (DoD), with a mission of placing satellites into polar orbit. Exact details about the payload nestled inside the Atlas rocket are kept classified, but 
the mission, known as the NROL-36, is critical to national security as it will deliver new Intel capabilities out to the warfighters.

It was a rare opportunity to witness the good work our PTP 45600, tactically deployable microwave radios can do for our national defense. The U.S. Air Force employed a Cambium PTP 45600 tactically deployable microwave to bridge a tracking system (located within the “danger zone” of the launch pad) to a safer site, where an optics export controls the tracking system.

Known as ROOTS (Remote Operational Optics Tracking System), this rig is a heavy trailer laden with nearly a dozen cameras of several varieties. The trailer provides the U.S. Air Force with a boatload of post launch visual data about the rocket, the umbilical tower that supports the rocket and associated mechanisms. The cameras, which typically include two 720p HD, 1080p HD, high speed/high res, and film, and thermal cameras each are mounted on a huge gymble-like rotor a-top the ROOTS trailer. During a launch, each of these cameras are remotely controlled and dynamically tilted or rotated by the optics expert, which is located two clicks away in the control van.

This is where the PTP 45600 comes in. The PTP 45600 is there to provide video and control Comms to the optics engineer in the control van so that he can remotely keep the ROOTS’ cameras trained on the rocket as it lifts off the pad toward the sky.

Certified for use by the Department of Defense

The PTP 45600 is specifically designed to support U.S. government entities with high performance connectivity and backhaul communications in challenging non-line-of-sight environments. The PTP 600 series is the only commercially available broadband wireless Fixed Network Element (F-NE) solution currently on the UC APL and certified for use by the DoD.

We’re extremely proud that the PTP 45600 was there to enable the U.S. Air Force to maintain steady communication between the ROOTS system, and the control operators and we look forward to being a part of many launches to come.