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Port Dawgs support NASA and Lockheed Martin mission

Airmen stand around a vehicle with an airplane behind them.

Members from the 60th Aerial Port Squadron and 60th Logistics Readiness Squadron troubleshoot a K loader Nov. 10, 2021, at Moffett Federal Airfield, California. The K loader was utilized in the safe transport of a NASA Orion spacecraft heat shield off of a Super Guppy in support of NASA Artemis Orion IV mission.(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Alexander Merchak)

An Airman places an object behind a tire of a vehicle

Senior Airman Leonardo Torres, 60th Aerial Port Squadron air transportation specialist, places chocks behind the tire of a K loader Nov. 10, 2021, at Moffett Federal Airfield, California. The chocks are placed to keep the vehicle in place so it doesn’t roll. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Alexander Merchak)

A photo of a man

Michael Echavarria, 60th Aerial Port Squadron motor vehicle operator and team lead for NASA download, marshals a K loader to the nose of a NASA Super Guppy Nov. 10, 2021, at Moffett Federal Airfield, California. The 60K-loader was utilized in the safe transport of NASA's Orion spacecraft heat shield off of a NASA Super Guppy in support of NASA's Artemis IV mission. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Alexander Merchak)

A photo of an Airman driving a vehicle

Senior Airman Cooper Dozzi, 60th Aerial Port Squadron aerial transportation specialist, backs a K loader to the nose of a NASA Super Guppy Nov. 10, 2021, at Moffett Federal Airfield, California. The 60K-loader was utilized in the safe transport of a NASA's Orion heat shield off of a NASA Super Guppy in support of NASA's Artemis IV mission. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Alexander Merchak)

A photo of workers on an airplane moving a ladder

Senior Airman Julius Arroyo, center, 60th Logistic Readiness Squadron materiel handling equipment mechanic, moves rollers into place on a K loader Nov. 10, 2021, at Moffett Federal Airfield, California. The K loader was utilized in the safe transport of NASA's Orion spacecraft heat shield off of a Super Guppy in support of NASA's Artemis IV mission. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Alexander Merchak)

man watches a heat shield come out of an airplane

Jack Roberts, NASA Yulista contract loadmaster, watches as the Orion spacecraft heat shield for NASA's Artemis IV mission moves onto a K loader Nov. 10, 2021, at Moffett Federal Airfield, California. The 60K-loader was provided by the 60th Aerial Port Squadron for the safe transport of the heat shield. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Alexander Merchak)

A photo of people moving a heat shield

Lockheed Martin technicians move a heat shield into position Nov. 10, 2021, in Sunnyvale, California. The heat shield will be placed in the autoclave and cured at around 750 degrees Fahrenheit. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Alexander Merchak)

A photo of a large autoclave

A photo of a large autoclave inside a Lockheed Martin facility Nov. 10, 2021, in Sunnyvale, California. The heat shield will be placed in the autoclave and cured at around 750 degrees Fahrenheit. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Alexander Merchak)

TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif.— The 60th Aerial Port Squadron and 60th Logistics Readiness Squadron assisted NASA and Lockheed Martin with offloading the Orion spacecraft heat shield for the Artemis IV mission from a NASA Super Guppy Nov. 8-10 at Moffett Federal Airfield, Sunnyvale, California.

“The purpose of this flight was to deliver the Orion heat shield for Artemis IV from where it is fabricated by Lockheed Martin in Denver, Colorado, to where it was offloaded and cured in Sunnyvale, California,” said John Bakalyar, NASA Super Guppy program manager. “This effort included coordination between Lockheed Martin, the NASA Orion Program team, NASA Super Guppy team and the USAF for K loader support.”

The joint force effort allowed the aircrew to move cargo that is unconventional to their everyday operations.

“This transport required a lot of attention to detail. The way the K loader approaches the Guppy, there was minimal room for error,” said Michael Echavarria, 60th Aerial Port Squadron motor vehicle operator and team lead for download. “Porters are the best in logistics and even if a new job seems overwhelming, I know my guys will get it done.”

Once the Super Guppy arrived, the APS and LRS Airmen positioned the K loader at the nose of the aircraft to safely load the heat shield, then transported it .5 miles to a Lockheed Martin facility.

“The support that NASA receives from APS and utilization of the K Loader greatly improves our mission effectiveness, said Bakalyar. “Air Force K Loaders are able to support cargo loading and offloading from the Super Guppy in situations where using NASA loading equipment is not feasible; the USAF K loader operators have always done an excellent job of adapting to our unique aircraft and operations.”

Once at the next location, a rigging team took over. It was lifted off the K loader with a crane, where Lockheed Martin technicians will cure the heat shield in a large autoclave.

The K loader will remain at Moffett Federal Airfield until the heat shield is ready to be transported again. The heat shield is currently scheduled to be loaded onto the Super Guppy December 2021.

“We look forward to coming back to see how NASA onloads the heat shield and to get an outside perspective on what others do differently to then implement new ideas in our shop,” said Echavarria.

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