David Garza and Andrew Feistel receiving award
Photo Caption: Aerospace Corporation team members from left to right: Andrew Dawdy, director of EHF Systems and Space Systems Group, EHF Systems, Space Systems Group; Dr. Wayne Hallman, department director, all of Flight Mechanics Department, Engineering and Technology Group; Dr. David Garza, engineering specialist; Andrew Feistel, senior MTS; and Garrett Teahan, MTS, all of Flight Design and Optimization.

A team of engineers at The Aerospace Corporation, including alumni Andrew Feistel (BS ASE ’04, MS ASE ‘07) and David Garza (BS ASE ’93, PhD ASE ’03), received the company’s President’s Achievement Award on Sept 20 for their innovative work on a mission plan to recover the AEHF (Advanced Extremely High Frequency) SV1 spacecraft.

Professor Wallace Fowler served as faculty advisor for both Feistel and Garza during their graduate studies in the ASE/EM Department.

The purpose of the U.S. Air Force’s AEHF-1 system is to provide worldwide secure, survivable satellite communications to U.S. strategic and tactical forces, even in the most dangerous of conflicts. Its expected mission life is 14 years.

When the AEHF-1 was launched aboard a United Launch Atlas 5 booster in August 2010, the satellite’s main engine system failed during two attempts to raise the altitude after being released from the rocket. This failure required a complete redesign of the AEHF orbit transfer in order to recover the satellite and its mission.

“The team played a critical role in the design, development, vetting, and execution of innovative, optimized mission plans that successfully transferred the AEHF-1 satellite to its final mission orbit, where it is expected to provide full mission life. This involved raising the satellite’s orbit by more than 20,000 miles,” according the Aerospace Corporation press release.

Thanks to the continuous hard work of the Aerospace team over a period of 57 weeks, the satellite successfully reached its final orbit with enough propellant to complete its intended 14-year mission.

To learn more about the AEHF-1 System, read the U.S. Air Force fact sheet and Spaceflight Now’s satellite rescue coverage.