The 45th Space Wing announced that it has decommissioned an experimental Air Force satellite that was used to evaluate space-based threats and to expand techniques used to maneuver closer to specific objects on orbit.
Termination of the Automated Navigation and Guidance Experiment for Local Space (ANGELS) satellite came as a result of a lack of resources necessary to extend the project’s lifespan beyond the experimentation phase. The project was operated by the 3rd Space Experimentation Squadron (3rd SES) at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado.
Dr. Joel Mozer, who had ANGELS’ control authority during the project’s beginnings and is Air Force Space Command’s acting chief scientist and technical advisor, gave the final command for ANGELS’ decommission.
According to a 2014 Air Force’s fact sheet for the project, ANGELS was designed to “improve methods for monitoring an increasingly contested space environment” via “safe-automated spacecraft operations above Geosynchronous Earth Orbit.”
To do this, ANGELS was to asses potential space-based threats against U.S. satellites and communicate the data to select military bases.
According to SpaceNews, ANGELS’ experimental phase consisted of the satellite monitoring a used Delta 4 rocket from 50 kilometers away before steadily moving closer to 1 kilometer as a means to test its maneuvering abilities.
Despite ANGELS decommissioning, the 3rd SES are preparing to work on future Air Force space projects, notably the EAGLE thermal imaging focused satellites due for launch in April 2018.