Travis Airmen vital to SBIRS Geo-5 Satellite mission

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Cameron Otte
  • 60th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif.— Mobility Airmen from Travis AFB played an integral role in the arrival of the Space Base Inferred System Geo-5 Satellite at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida March 25, 2021.

According to 1st Lt. Kahleb Kelsey, 22nd Airlift Squadron C5-M Super Galaxy co-pilot, the SBIRS GEO-5 satellite is the fifth Satellite in the SBIRS Geo series to be launched with the capability to detect missile launches from all around the globe.

“This satellite can detect a wide range of missile launches from small missiles up to nuclear bombs, ensuring we are prepared ahead of time to counter any attack,” said Kelsey.

Travis AFB Airmen transported the satellite across the country from California to Florida. 

“We started this mission at Travis Air Force Base and loaded some support equipment for the mission before heading down to Moffett AirField where we prepositioned for the satellite upload, said Kelsey.”

Once arriving at Moffett AirField , Travis AFB loadmasters loaded the satellite with precision and efficiency.

“We had to line up the satellite with the aircraft and began winching it so we can begin the process of carefully loading the satellite onto the aircraft,” said Senior Airman Mathew Roth, 22 AS C-5 instructor loadmaster. “This was going to be the slowest part of the mission because satellites can be very sensitive to the slightest movement so we had to move it incredibly slowly.”

Travis Air Force Base is the only base that has C-5 aircraft capable of moving satellites around the country.

“When we finished loading the satellite onto the aircraft, we had to begin preparing for this mission much more thoroughly,” 

“After the loading was finished we had to begin preparing far more precautions than we would for most other missions,” said Kalsey. “We had to account for turbulence and weather because they could damage the satellite. We needed to avoid violent weather as much as possible so we had another C-5 ahead of us scouting out harsh conditions.”

The C-5 is a special aircraft because it is capable of carrying outsized cargo such as vehicles and satellites; most aircraft can only hold palletized cargo.

“When we finally got to Cape Canaveral’s runway, we had to ensure as smooth a landing as possible to minimize shaking,” said Kelsey. “After the satellite was unloaded and removed from its safety container, we reload the empty container and drop it off at Moffett before returning to Travis.”

This was a joint mission between the Air Force, Space Force, and civilian contractors.

“I’m really proud that I got to be part of getting this satellite to its launching location,” said Roth. “This was honestly one of my favorite types of missions, because of all the teams involved and the impact it’s going to make it really felt like I made a difference.”

Mission’s like this help develop Airmen, explained Kelsey.

“It’s very important for Travis AFB Airmen to be involved with these high alert missions,” said Kelsey. “We are the ones with the experience and the means of getting this mission done and our Airmen are eager to do whatever takes to accomplish the mission.”