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News | May 2, 2023

USSPACECOM Orchestrates NASA Satellite Movements

By Joe Grigg U.S. Space Command

U.S. Space Command recently accomplished an integrated, intergovernmental and international movement of two satellites in support of French and Indian scientific research. At the helm of this achievement was USSPACECOM’s logistics and engineering directorate.
The Logistics and Engineering directorate, in partnership with U.S. Transportation Command and NASA, synchronized movement of the first satellite from France to California by a U.S. Air Force C-17 in October 2022 for launch in December 2022.
The capability delivered was the Surface Water and Ocean Topography (SWOT) satellite, a joint venture between NASA and France’s National Centre for Space Studies. The SWOT will make the first global survey of Earth's surface water, observe the fine details of the ocean's surface topography, and measure how water bodies change over time. The first images from the system began arriving in April 2023. 
David “Gunny” Kostyk, the Logistics and Engineering directorate’s Senior Mobility Planner, spoke about the unique nature of the SWOT movement.
“The planning of this movement, working with NASA and USTRANSCOM to get the satellite in and on military aircraft, was a new experience for our team,” Kostyk said. “The Logistics and Engineering directorate looks forward to continuing to orchestrate the movement of space systems in the future.” 
The second space system transported was the joint NASA and Indian Space Research Organization Synthetic Aperture Radar, or NISAR. This satellite will feature the most advanced radar system ever launched on a NASA science mission and will study natural hazards, melting sea-ice, and groundwater supply. The Logistics and Engineering directorate arranged movement of NISAR, which was transported from California to India via two C-17s in March 2023, and the satellite will launch in 2024.
Ron Strickland, USSPACECOM’s Logistics and Engineering directorate airlift planner, explained how the NISAR movement presented complex challenges.  
“These moves were not routine and took a collective team effort of long hours and detailed communication, working with our partners on the intricacies of military transport,” he said. “Gunny and I were not the only ones on this project, we could not have done it without our fellow Logistics and Engineering directorate teammates.”
U.S. Army Col. Shane Cuéllar, the Logistics and Engineering director, spoke about why the directorate is vital to USSPACECOM’s mission.
“The Logistics and Engineering directorate has over 40 personnel supporting USSPACECOM’s various logistics requirements including critical infrastructure and facilities, logistics and engineering plans and programs, and weapon system sustainment,” explained Cuéllar. “Movements like these possible were made possible by U.S. Army Maj. Micah Hall, Joe Grigg, Carla Gallardo and Tara Smith – the heart of USSPACECOM transportation planning and execution. Without us, there are no facilities, no supplies, and no movement.”
USSPACECOM, working with Allies and Partners, plans, executes, and integrates military spacepower into multi-domain global operations in order to deter aggression, defend national interests, and when necessary, defeat threats.