The Air Force will launch its next highly protected communications satellite in October, but leaders from Lockheed Martin and the Department of Defense met recently to continue an unusual tradition: they signed a space blanket.
On June 22, leaders from the Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center, the Aerospace Corporation and Lockheed Martin Space Systems autographed the thermal space blanket that will travel inside a satellite.
The thermal space blanket will be wrapped around part of the Air Force’s Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF)-4 satellite as a way to help regulate temperature and prevent rapid temperature change. Thermal blankets, like the one that will travel with AEHF-4, were initially developed by NASA in 1964 and are highly reflective. They are also regularly found in emergency kits or used by long-distance runners to prevent rapid temperature change.
Signing the thermal blanket continued a tradition from previous AEHF satellites and the legacy Milstar satellite program, which preceded the AEHF program.
The AEHF program consists of six satellites that provide communications for high-priority military ground, sea and air assets. Most recently, AEHF-3 launched in 2013 and the first satellite in the program, AEHF-1 launched in 2010.