News: Communications on the move
Story by Sgt. Marcy Sanchez
CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. – The Combat SkySat, which looks similar to a weather balloon, allows radio coverage over a 600-mile radius when it reaches an altitude of 100,000 feet. According to Space Data Corporation, Combat Skysat’s developer, one system can connect the ground element, air element, logistics element and command element of a Marine Expeditionary Unit.
“I used the system a year and a half ago on a training exercise, it definitely works,” said Sgt. Justin D. Shoonover, a radio operator with the 11th MEU.
During the five-day course, students learned to set up, launch and communicate through the Combat SkySat. The students then launched several Combat SkySat systems to test their proficiency.
A portion of the training covered the Portable Launch and Control System, which monitors the Combat SkySat’s altitude and geographic coordinates through an on-board GPS unit. The GPS unit, along with the PLCS allowed operators to recover the system after the exercise.
The training exercise covered everything from inflating the latex balloon with helium to navigating through the computer program on the PLCS. Field operations specialists provided all training required to use a Combat SkySat in a deployed environment.
“Set up and launch can be done aboard a ship or in a remote location outside of the operating area,” said Matthew Cousins, senior field operations manager with Space Data Corporation. “It’s an easy to use, self-contained unit that will extend the warfighter’s communication.”
Combat SkySat Tactical Satellite Surrogate training is held upon unit requests through I MEF’s Science and Technology group.
Radio operators with the 13th MEU will use the Combat SkySat during their next deployment scheduled for February 2011.