Space and astronomy news and information for the American Southwest. Coverage includes Vandenberg AFB rocket and missile launches.

Airmen Receive Cutting-Edge Satellite Training

Staff Sgt. Jeremy Larlee, Air Force News Agency

Reprinted from Air Force Link

2007 March 6

SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. (AFNEWS) -- As a satellite systems crew chief, Staff Sgt. Lori Browning has a job that is out of this world. She is currently receiving training on the Space Based Infrared Systems, or SBIRS, that is scheduled to become operational sometime next year.

Sergeant Browning is part of the first class that is being trained on the system in the 460th Operations Detachment 1 at Schriever Air Force Base, Colo. The instruction is split into four categories: systems crew chief, mission management, mission crew chiefs and commanders, who have oversight of the total mission. The program will provide the nation with missile defense and warning capabilities.

The Air Force Space Command's most advanced payload will give better data at higher latitudes and is more sensitive, detection capabilities that can pinpoint missile launches with greater accuracy.

Training to work on multi-billion dollar equipment can be a real challenge the sergeant said.

"You have to keep your proficiency up and you can't forget what you have learned," she said. "The course has been real challenging and we have to keep an open mind, because some things can't be emulated."

One thing that is not a challenge for the students is face time with the instructors. Because the course is so detail oriented, there is one instructor for every two students in the course, said Staff Sgt. Narciso Bautista, a SBIRS mission management instructor for the 460th Operations Detachment 1.

"We deal with a fewer amount of people, because we need a lot of one-on-one time to ensure they are being trained correctly," he said. "What we are teaching is going to be very critical to the missile warning mission and in that area there can't be any mistakes."

Sergeant Bautista received his SBIRS training from the systems civilian contractors. He said it is very exciting work on such a new program. One challenge of working on a new program has been identifying items that may not work or need to be tweaked. The sergeant expects his students to ask a lot of questions, because it is vital identifying possible problems with the satellite system.

"It is great to be in on the ground floor with this," Sergeant Browning said. "It makes every day exciting and I look forward to being able to work on such a vital system."

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