Travis Aircrew delivers missile defense satellite

  • Published
  • By Nicholas Pilch
  • 60th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. – Ten Airmen from the 22nd Airlift Squadron at Travis Air Force Base, California, supported a joint force mission via C-5M Super Galaxy, aiding in the delivery of the sixth Geosynchronous Earth Orbit Space Based Infrared System satellite (SBIRS GEO-6) satellite to Cape Canaveral, Florida, June 2, 2022.

The satellite is tentatively launching Aug. 2022, according to

SBIRS is a high-priority, U.S. Space Force program that provides worldwide missile warning, missile defense, battlespace awareness and technical intelligence capabilities for the U.S. military and consists of a constellation of satellites in both Geosynchronous Earth Orbit and Highly Elliptical Orbit, according to a press release from Space Systems Command, Space Base Delta 3, California.

U.S. Air Force Capt. Justin L. Wilson, 22nd AS C-5 evaluator pilot, led the mission.

“We on-loaded the satellite in its specialized container with its support equipment at Moffett Federal Airfield, California, and delivered it to Cape Canaveral, Florida, for its eventual launch,” said Wilson.

The mission occurred May 31 to June 7.

The C-5 is the only aircraft capable of airlifting the specialized container that carries satellites of this size.

“Our crews are trained to provide the specialized support required to accomplish this mission,” said Wilson. “The loadmasters have very stringent tolerances when loading and unloading, and can take 8-12 hours to load the cargo.”

The satellite and support equipment weighed more than 145,000 pounds with an approximate cost of $2.1 billion dollars.

“The flight engineers must adhere to strict pressurization and temperature limits during flight,” said Wilson. “The pilots must be able to fly a very smooth aircraft, with extremely tight landing tolerances to ensure the satellite is not damaged.”

Wilson expressed gratitude for his crew and the missions he is able to support because of the Air Force.

“Arriving, and meeting some of the people involved with the program is a great feeling,” he said. “Just knowing they have been working for years on this and that we have been able to play a small part in the eventual launch is a feeling like no other.”

For launch updates call the ULA launch hotline at 1-877-852-4321.