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Archive for the ‘Space’ Category

Record-Breaking Army Astronaut Receives Rare Qualification Device

Sunday, February 25th, 2024

WASHINGTON — Secretary of the Army Christine Wormuth awarded Col. Frank Rubio the Army Astronaut Device during a pinning ceremony at the Pentagon today.

Rubio spent 371 days aboard the International Space Station from 2022-2023 breaking the record for the longest spaceflight for an American astronaut.

“Col. Rubio, you are a stellar example of the Army’s core values and what it means to lead a life of service,” Wormuth said. “You inspired audiences around the world as you orbited the Earth for 371 days, and now, back on Earth, you continue to inspire others as you share your experience with the public.”

The Army awards the astronaut device to personnel who complete at least one operational mission in space. With the award, Rubio joins Col. Anne McClain and Col. Andrew Morgan as the only active-duty Soldiers authorized to wear the device.

Army astronauts choose which specialty badge the device is placed on for their uniform. Rubio will wear his on his senior aviator badge.

A former UH-60 Black Hawk pilot, Rubio flew more than 600 combat flight hours during several overseas deployments. He then transitioned to the medical field as a family physician and flight surgeon before being selected as a NASA astronaut in 2017.

He served as a flight engineer for Expeditions 68 and 69, supporting numerous research projects including particle vibration experiments, biological testing and 3D tissue printing while also performing three spacewalks outside of the station.

“What an incredible honor it is to represent the Army,” Rubio said. “And honestly, the biggest honor for me out of this badge is the fact that to me it’s the ultimate team badge. You absolutely cannot get to space on your own. It takes a team of thousands to get you to space.”

Rubio launched into space Sept. 21, 2022 aboard a Russin Soyuz spacecraft alongside cosmonauts Sergey Prokopyev and Dmitri Petelin. The crew’s initial six-month mission was pushed into a year-long stay following a space debris strike that caused their return capsule to lose all its coolant.

The trio logged more than 157 million miles during the mission and circled the globe nearly 6,000 times until finally returning to earth Sept. 27, 2023.

Back home, Rubio plans to continue working with NASA as they further their mission and he hopes to eventually return to space one day.

“There [are] few things where you can say ‘my job represents humanity,’ and that is a powerful thing to be a part of,” he said. “It’s just such an incredible experience to be able to inspire the next generation, contribute to science, technologies that we’re developing that [are] going to help humanity in ways that we probably can’t imagine right now.”

The Army has worked closely with NASA to advance space exploration since the beginning of the U.S. space program, and that partnership has produced 19 Army astronauts.

“These uniquely skilled and extremely qualified people represent the very best and most talented officers and warrant officers from within the Army,” Wormuth said. “As we humans explore further into space, and NASA returns to the moon and sets its sights beyond to Mars, the Army will continue to play an important role in the exploration of space long into the future. And we will build on the research that Col. Rubio did on the International Space Station for 371 record-setting days.”

Story by Christopher Hurd, Army News Service

Photos by SFC Nicole Mejia and Deonte Rowell

Guardians Demonstrate Physical, Mental Resilience During Marine Corps Martial Arts Program

Sunday, February 18th, 2024

CAMP KINSER, Japan —

At 3:15 a.m., U.S. Space Force Capt. Peter Simon turns off his alarm, quickly checks his emails, puts on his uniform and heads to his car.

What’s different about his uniform compared to those of his fellow Guardians from the 161st Electromagnetic Warfare Combat Detachment, a unit within Space Delta 3 – Space Electromagnetic Warfare, is that his uniform doesn’t contain any nametape. No last name on the right side of his chest. No “U.S. SPACE FORCE” written in all blue letters. Nothing that would clearly distinguish his name, rank, or military branch from another Space Force Guardian.

But, in a group of 50 Marines, Simon stands out. Surrounded by Marines who are also nameless and rankless, it’s the difference in camouflage pattern, and perhaps the 10-year age difference, that clearly distinguishes Simon from the pack.

Simon, detachment commander of the 161st EWCD, and Staff Sgt. Clifton Trujillo, an Air Force reservist and expeditionary cyber lead for 161st EWCD, are deployed to Camp Kinser, Japan, with the intent of developing a larger Space Force presence on the primarily Marine Corps base.
While deployed, both Simon and Trujillo serve 12-hour shifts Monday through Friday but remain “on call at a moment’s notice” during the weekends. Despite the long shift, both Guardians have signed up to participate in the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program.

Delivered in various stages, the MCMAP functions as a combat system developed by the United States Marine Corps to combine existing and new hand-to-hand and close quarters combat techniques with morale and team-building functions as well as instruction in the Warrior Ethos.
Serving as a foundational pillar for the USMC, the MCMAP is comprised of learning armed and unarmed combative techniques while also forging mental and physical toughness amongst the ranks.

Like many martial arts disciplines, a servicemember’s qualifications are demonstrated by the color of belt he or she receives. The levels of qualification include tan, gray, green, brown and black; tan representing the earliest qualification and black representing the most senior level of proficiency a Marine can achieve.

“The program is so ingrained into USMC culture that it may become a barrier to promotion if a member doesn’t achieve a certain level by the time they are eligible for promotion,” explained Simon.

Simon first heard of the program from his brother-in-law, a former Marine who had spoken highly of the program.

“He described what the course was about and some of the drills they did, which made me want to get involved,” said Simon. “I reached out to the course instructor when I got settled at Camp Kinser and he agreed to include two Guardians in the course.”

From there, five days a week for three weeks, Simon and Trujillo woke up well before the sun or their fellow Guardians would rise, perfecting combative techniques and conquering various obstacle courses, only to then shower and make it to work on time for their 6 a.m. roll call.

“We would finish the day absolutely exhausted, said Trujillo. “Everything hurt for those entire three weeks.”

Despite the early mornings and the course’s physical toll, compounded by an already demanding deployment schedule, Simon and Trujillo stuck it out to the course’s culminating event: a four-hour test of participants’ physical and mental resilience.

“Through it all, I learned I’m a lot more resilient than I thought I was,” said Trujillo. “I’m more than 20 years older than most of the Marines in the course. To be able to keep up with them and see the course to its end was a great feeling.”

Upon completing the course, both Guardians received tan belts, symbolizing their level of proficiency in the MCMAP.

“It doesn’t look too different from the belts we wear every day in the Space Force,” admitted Simon. “Most people probably wouldn’t know the difference, but I’ll still wear it proudly.”

As for what’s next, Simon says he wants to continue working his way up the MCMAP ladder, eventually earning the highest level of proficiency: the black belt.

“The Space Force values unique experiences like this because it allows Guardians to approach problems differently and communicate more effectively across the Joint Force,” said Simon. “If I can continue to find programs such as the MCMAP, I can not only better myself, but create opportunities for the next generation of Guardians that I wish I had when I first joined the military.”

By Emily Peacock

Top Army Generals for Cyber, Space and Special Ops Convene

Tuesday, February 13th, 2024

PETERSON SPACE FORCE BASE, Colo. — The U.S. Army’s top generals for cyber, space and special operations forces met to discuss the Triad partnership and how they can further develop, operationalize and institutionalize the collaboration.

Commanding Generals Lt. Gen. Maria B. Barrett, U.S. Army Cyber Command; Lt. Gen. Jonathon P. Braga, U.S. Army Special Operations Command; and Lt. Gen. Sean A. Gainey, U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command, met Jan. 31, 2024, for the third Triad 3-Star General Officer Steering Committee at USASMDC headquarters at Peterson Space Force Base.

Members of the committee emphasized the importance of the Triad due to the ever-changing character of warfare. Along with this evolution, the threats and the nature of deterrence are changing for the United States. The Triad looks to develop innovative and comprehensive solutions.

“The Cyber-Space-SOF Triad provides one of these solutions,” Braga said. “It is a ‘Modern-Day Triad’ designed to converge unique accesses, capabilities, authorities, understanding and effects in many of the same ways we have implemented combined arms operations. Additionally, the Triad provides operational and strategic advantage during active campaigning, crisis and conflict, while presenting options to senior leaders that are less escalatory than current strategic deterrence options.”

Gainey said that they must continue building upon the significant progress the Triad has already made in the development of concepts, capabilities and formations that enable exquisite operational preparation of the environment. The commands have already developed a unified exercise, experimentation and engagement plan for fiscal year 2024 and fiscal year 2025.

“We are working with the Theater Special Operations Command to ensure they know the space and high-altitude capabilities we can provide and to develop the operational concepts of employment,” said Gainey.

“(The Triad) is developing real-world employment concepts designed to enable Army and joint force objectives anywhere in the world at a time and place of our choosing,” Gainey said. “Additionally, the Triad will enable ‘Left of Launch’ trans-regional missile defeat and active campaigning to ensure the ability of our nation’s adversaries to strike the United States, as well as its partners and allies is prevented.”

The Triad is a major way we can contribute to multi-domain operations and for us, the potential it provides our Missile Defeat efforts, as well as the access, understanding, and effects it can enable for the Joint Force are undeniable, Gainey said.

“As such, the Triad provides flexible deterrent options that can shape the threat environment in ways our adversaries are unaware of and can provide flexible response options if they choose to break international norms and escalate tensions into conflict,” he said.

Braga said the Triad has an outsized impact against the adversary’s capabilities as it relates to SOF, space and cyber.

“That is why it is inherent we work together, experiment together and learn together,” Braga said.

Barrett said the Triad is coming up with solutions and tools together as a team.

“Triad operations disrupt adversary actions, demonstrate resolve, shape the adversary’s perceptions and gain advantage for warfighters when deterrence fails,” Barrett said. “ARCYBER has a track record of integrating cyber, electronic warfare and influence operations and can now deliver that to triad partners.”

By Dottie White, USASMDC

New Army Space Vision: Actualizing Multidomain Operations

Sunday, January 14th, 2024

WASHINGTON — “The Army Space Vision will ensure our commanders integrate space-based operations into all aspects of our operational planning and execution to prevail on tomorrow’s contested battlefields.” — The Honorable Christine Wormuth, 25th Secretary of the Army.

Army space will reach new heights in 2024. This month, the Secretary of the Army, Chief of Staff of the Army and Sergeant Major of the Army published the Army Space Vision outlining a renewed focus for Army space activities. The new space vision directs the Army to concentrate on: (1) integrating friendly joint, coalition, and commercial space capabilities and (2) interdicting adversary space capabilities to protect friendly forces. These two roles and responsibilities are critical components to multidomain operations, and they enable the Army to effectively shoot, move, communicate, and survive on a 21st-century battlefield. The Army Space Vision focuses the scope of Army space operations to its core interests while acknowledging the Space Force mission to provide mission-critical space capabilities to the Joint Force.

The Army Space Vision is a call to action for commanders and staffs, at every echelon, to better understand how the space domain impacts land operations and how operations on land can impact the space domain. As the Army prepares for large-scale ground combat operations against peer competitors, the Army cannot take friendly space capabilities for granted or discount adversary space capabilities. This reinforces guidance outlined in Army Field Manual 3-0 emphasizing commanders and their staffs require an increased understanding of the space domain and the Army can no longer assume it can operate unobserved. Additionally, commanders cannot assume they will have unconstrained use of space capabilities.

To increase the Army’s collective understanding of the space domain, commanders should seek out Army space professionals within their organization or their higher headquarters. Army space professionals can help units by increasing their knowledge of friendly and adversary space capabilities and, more importantly, how they affect operations on land. The Army must integrate its space professionals into day-to-day operations and more long-term planning efforts at a minimum. They can also spearhead leader professional development sessions that emphasize the integration of friendly space capabilities to enhance all Army warfighting functions and the interdiction of adversary space capabilities to protect friendly forces.

As the Army seeks to integrate joint, coalition, and commercial space capabilities it must prioritize the following space mission areas (1) Positioning, Navigation, and Timing (PNT) (e.g., Global Positioning System), (2) Satellite Communications (SATCOM); (3) Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR); and (4) Missile Warning. These are not the only space mission areas; however, these four space mission areas are the most consequential for the Army to carry out its mission. Additionally, the Army still develops ground user equipment in concert with its joint, coalition, and commercial space capability providers. As the Army uses friendly space capabilities, commanders and staffs need to know the interdependencies and potential vulnerabilities.

When it comes to interdicting adversary space capabilities, Army commanders and staffs must understand space domain threats and how they impact land operations. Rapid advancements in adversary space capabilities pose a significant risk to the Army and land forces particularly. For instance, adversary PNT systems enable long-range precision-guided munitions, SATCOM provides beyond-line-of-sight encrypted communication for command and control, and ISR allows persistent observation and geolocation. To mitigate the threat, Army space professionals can conduct space operations that deny or degrade adversary use of space for hostile purposes. Interdicting adversary space capabilities protects friendly forces and is an essential element in multidomain operations.

The Army Space Vision also differentiates Army space from the other services. Since the Space Force establishment, each service has retained a cadre of space professionals and service-unique space capabilities. All services integrate joint, coalition, and commercial space capabilities, and most services conduct space operations to interdict adversary space capabilities. The common thread among the services is tailoring space professionals and space capabilities to their domain. For the Army, its space professionals directly support ground maneuver commanders on the land domain. The Army specially designs its space capabilities to co-locate and maneuver with ground forces at the forward edge of battle. These service-unique space capabilities are smaller in size, more mobile, produced at a greater scale, and built for combat.

The Army looks forward to actualizing the new vision over the coming months and years. In addition to the Army Space Vision publication, there are other momentous changes taking place too. First, the Army proponent for space and high altitude, the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command, recently had a change of command ceremony as it said farewell to Lt. Gen. Dan Karbler and welcomed Lt. Gen. Sean Gainey. Second, the Army is developing and fielding new capabilities to interdict adversary use of space for hostile purposes. Third, the Army is also contemplating elevating its space operations career field from a functional area to a branch. Regardless of whether the space operations career field becomes a branch, there is consensus that Army space professionals, capabilities, and formations will continue to grow.

As the new vision surmises, the Army’s next fight will occur across multiple domains, and successful operations in and through the space domain will be critical to our success. In other words, space is important to the Army and will become increasingly more important going forward. Army commanders and staffs must know how the space domain affects land operations, and how they can affect the space domain. The interplay among domains is a principal reason the Army adopted multidomain operations as its operating concept. The Army Space Vision allows the Army to actualize multidomain operations with its renewed focus on Army space operations. Army senior leader endorsement of the new vision concurrently recognizes the importance of the space domain and substantiates increased investments in Army space professionals, capabilities, and formations.

By COL Pete Atkinson, HQDA Space Chief

SECAF Authorizes Space Force Good Conduct Medal

Sunday, October 29th, 2023

U.S. Space Force Guardians are now eligible to receive the Space Force Good Conduct Medal (SFGCM) if eligibility criteria are met, effective immediately.

This medal recognizes “exemplary behavior, efficiency, and fidelity of enlisted members of the United States Space Force,” according to a memo signed by Secretary of the Air Force Frank Kendall Aug. 30, 2023.

The memo also outlined award eligibility for the SFGCM will be retroactive to the date the U.S. Space Force was established by law, Dec. 20, 2019.

Eligibility for the award includes members demonstrating the Space Force core values of Character, Connection, Commitment, and Courage; members will receive the SFGCM after serving in the Space Force for three years.

Award of the SFGCM is automatic unless denied by the unit commander.

This new medal comes after Executive Order 8809, Good Conduct Medal, was amended by Executive Order 14085, Expanding Eligibility for Certain Military Decorations and Awards, dated Oct 3. 2022, and will be reflected in the next revision to DAFMAN 36-2806, Military Awards: Criteria and Procedures, Attachment 14.

By Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs

DAF Unveils Art Commemorating 75 Years of Air and Space Power

Tuesday, September 5th, 2023

ARLINGTON, Va. (AFNS) —  

Department of the Air Force senior leaders presided over a ceremony unveiling commemorative wall art titled, “A Shared Foundation; Celebrating 75 Years of Air and Space Power,” at the Pentagon Aug. 29.

DAF celebrated the 75th Anniversary of Air and Space heritage in September 2022 and commissioned the art to help tell the stories of the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Space Force, which required nearly 18 months to complete due to the artist’s extensive research into each of its numerous elements.

The artist, Warren F. Neary, focused the content of the piece on the contributions of Airmen and Guardians throughout the eras. Beginning with the earliest airpower innovators in the Army Air Corps, the art highlights significant milestones and achievements.

“[Neary] met with DAF leadership and visited bases around the country to capture the range of the missions and the people that compose our Air and Space Forces,” Secretary of the Air Force Frank Kendall remarked. “The people you see in the painting are depictions of real Airmen, real Guardians; both are part of our heritage and those who are currently serving … [This artwork shows] people who helped build our organization, the aircraft and equipment that shaped our experiences and the missions that drove it all.”

In addition to depicting Airmen and Guardians, the artwork features various Air Force and Space Force platforms and systems. In total, 114 unique visual elements are incorporated into the piece.

Each group of elements in the artwork is designed to form the shape of the delta or infinity symbols. The delta symbol carries a deep, historic meaning for both the Air Force and Space Force and signifies upward trajectory and rapid advancement. The infinity symbol represents the ever-present requirements for adaptation, improvement, innovation and vigilance.

“Our heritage is incredibly important — it tells our story. It reminds us of who we are and where we have come from, and why it all matters. The images that surround this piece are powerful. They shape our culture, our sense of purpose and our warfighter mindset.”

-Secretary of the Air Force Frank Kendall

Neary has created many works of art throughout his career depicting subjects of air and space power. He has received national-level recognition, and his artwork has been exhibited in the National Museum of the Air Force, the Museum of Aviation, the U.S. Air Force Art Collection and the U.S. Army Center for Military History, in addition to private collections.

Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs

U.S. Air Force photos by Eric Dietrich

Garmin Smartwatches Help Launch U.S. Space Force Fitness Study

Monday, August 28th, 2023

Trial program measures Guardians’ physical activity and biometric data to assess readiness

Photo: U.S. Space Force / Rick Eldridge

OLATHE, Kan./August 28, 2023 — Garmin smartwatches are being deployed by the thousands to help assess the physical fitness of U.S. Space Force Guardians, the company (NYSE: GRMN) announced today. Commissioned by the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), the two-year study will explore the effectiveness of smartwatch technology to supplant annual physical fitness assessments.

“Garmin is gratified to be part of this exciting research effort that will help ensure Space Force Guardians are physically prepared to perform their duties. The accurate health metrics and exceptional battery life of our smartwatches will provide a reliable snapshot of a Guardian’s physical readiness, potentially saving the U.S. Military time and money.” — Scott Burgett, Senior Director of Garmin Health Engineering

Guardians who actively participate in the study will be exempt from U.S. Air Force physical fitness assessments. Enrollment has been robust, with over two-thirds of the 8,400-strong Space Force signing up since the program was announced in May. To date, more than 6,000 Garmin smartwatches have been or will be issued to active military members who have agreed to log workouts and complete monthly surveys provided by AFRL, and a second wave of enrollment is expected to begin in October.

“By tracking two basic metrics—cardiorespiratory fitness and physical activity—we can quickly verify that a Guardian has met their physical requirements and is ready for duty,” said Dr. James Christensen, a product line lead with AFRL’s 711th Human Performance Wing. “We hope that continuous fitness assessment, implemented via wearable technology, will promote a higher, more consistent level of fitness across the force with expected outcomes like reduced injury and stress, improved resilience and higher overall operational performance.”

Garmin Instinct® 2 Solar and Forerunner® 55 smartwatches were chosen for the U.S. Space Force’s Continuous Fitness Assessment (CFA) project because they offer abundant battery life, high-quality biometric data and the ability to disable GPS functionality. Further, the Garmin Health API and secure data collection practices are compliant with federal privacy and cybersecurity standards for software, sensors and data encryption.

“We were pleased that the Garmin wearable ecosystem went through a rigorous U.S. Air Force cybersecurity and privacy review,” Burgett said. “The U.S. military has high security standards, and our system is designed end-to-end to protect sensitive user data.”

The AFRL team will analyze study results to determine the effectiveness of smartwatches relative to the current physical fitness tests and advise on future efforts to make smartwatches a permanent option. If successful, the program could be adopted by other branches of the Armed Services and include broader Department of Defense requirements such as musculoskeletal injury risk. 

Garmin Health provides custom enterprise business solutions that leverage Garmin’s extensive wearable portfolio and high-quality sensor data for applications in the corporate wellness, population health, and patient monitoring markets. The Garmin Health API allows third parties to ask customers to share their data in accordance with their specific privacy policies. As part of a global company that designs, manufactures and ships products worldwide, Garmin Health supports its customers’ commerce and logistics needs, allowing enterprises to scale with a single, trusted provider. For more information, email our media team, connect with us on LinkedIn, or visit us online at garmin.com/health

Colorado Springs to host DEL 15, two Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance Squadrons

Wednesday, June 28th, 2023

ARLINGTON, Va. (AFNS) —  

The U.S. Space Force’s Space Delta 15, activated in March 2023, is expected to be permanently based at Schriever Space Force Base, Colorado, along with the new 75th Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance Squadron. Additionally, the service expects the 74th ISR Squadron, activated in November 2022, to be based at Peterson Space Force Base, Colorado.

DEL 15, a command-and-control organization within Space Operations Command, provides mission-ready forces in support of the National Space Defense Center’s protect and defend space mission. The unit currently operates at Schriever Space Force Base and is expected to remain there permanently.

The two ISR squadrons will provide additional capabilities within Space Delta 7, which has embedded detachments in each of the command’s other deltas to provide real-time ISR support to their respective missions.

The 74th ISR Squadron provides tailored threat analysis and intelligence production for tactical space operations. The squadron’s intelligence gathering is used to empower space operations to combat current, emerging, and future adversaries.

The new 75th ISR Squadron will be responsible for the federated targeting mission through orbital targeting sections focusing on integrating kinetic and non-kinetic targeting for the Joint Force across several orbital regimes.

The Department of the Air Force’s decision to host DEL 15 and the two ISR squadrons came after conducting thorough site surveys which assessed the location’s ability to facilitate the missions and infrastructure capacity while accounting for community support, environmental factors, and cost.

The Department of the Air Force will now conduct environmental impact analyses at each base, which are expected to be completed later this year before final decisions are made.

Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs