Yokota Airmen help deliver U.S. Space Force satellite payload to Japan May 18, 2023

YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan – Members of 374th Mission Support Group and the 730th Air Mobility Squadron provided vital support to a space cooperation initiative between the U.S. and Japan, culminating in the arrival of a spaceflight ready payload to Yokota Air Base on May 10.

The satellite payload carries space-based sensors able to collect data from orbit and relay information back to Earth. The payload will ultimately be hosted on a Japanese satellite system known as the Geo-based Quasi-Zenith Satellite System.

Officials from the U.S. Space Force Space Systems Command led the payload delivery planning, with logistical, contracting and communications support from mobility and logistical experts at Yokota.

“The Airmen of the 374th MSG are proud to provide the significant assistance necessary to ensure the successful arrival of this payload,” said Lt. Col. Jennifer Malatesta, 374th MSG deputy commander. “Our logistics and contracting Airmen, together with our partners in the 730th AMS, helped support a space partnership effort integrating U.S. and Japanese initiatives, and we are happy to contribute to this delivery.”

The May 10 payload arrival marks the second and final delivery of a spaceflight ready payload, part of a joint effort between the USSF and the Japanese National Space Policy Secretariat. Japan has agreed to host the U.S. space sensor payloads on Japanese navigation satellites. Both countries have recognized a common interest in integrating space systems.

"Our partners at the 374th Airlift Wing, working together with experts from Air Mobility Command, were key contributors to our nation’s plans to collaboratively deliver space-based sensors to our Japanese partner’s integration facility,” said Lt. Col. Brian Fredrickson, U.S. Space Force SSC QZSS-Hosted Payload program manager. “The final delivery of a spaceflight-ready payload signifies another critical milestone for U.S. – Japan space partnership efforts."

The satellite payload was developed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Lincoln Laboratory under a 2019 agreement with the U.S. Air Force. A C-17 Globemaster III loaded the payload and departed from Hanscom Air Force Base, Mass. on May 9, stopping at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, before final arrival to Yokota. Officials from the NSPS were able to travel to Yokota to witness the aircraft arrival and meet with those who facilitated the payload delivery.

“Our Airmen worked together with USSF Guardians to provide the in-country support contracts prior to the payload arrival, coordinate the logistics necessary to support the arrival plan, and ultimately track the delivery and transport of the payload to its final destination in Japan,” said Malatesta. “This was a successful collaborative effort on the part of Yokota’s uniformed and civilian experts.”

Fredrickson emphasized the significance of local efforts at Yokota contributing to the project.

“What the 374th Airlift Wing has done is no short of supporting the union of U.S. and Japan in space,” said Fredrickson. “The contributions of Yokota Airmen help provide a basis for future international cooperative space partnerships and initiatives.”