Archive for the ‘Space’ Category

VCSO Visits Space Systems Command, Shares Vision for New Field Command

Monday, October 11th, 2021

LOS ANGELES AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. — U.S. Space Force Vice Chief of Space Operations Gen. David D. Thompson met with Guardians and Airmen during his visit to Space Systems Command Oct. 4, marking his first visit to SSC since its activation.

Thompson, who is the first VCSO in USSF history, made resolute expectations for the newly formed field command during an All Call with SSC Guardians and Airmen.

“SSC needs to re-energize its approach to seeing, understanding and rapidly developing while fielding new capabilities to keep us ahead of threats that we see from China and others,” Thompson said.

Noting the important mission that SSC has in the space domain, Thompson stressed to its members to help the U.S. Space Force hasten its pace.

“We have to ask members of SSC to tell us what they need in order to change policy and regulations, and even work with congress to change laws that will allow us to move faster,” Thompson said.

Furthermore, Thompson recognized the importance of bringing prosperity to SSC through ever-expanding partnerships in the acquisitions community.

“Commercial companies are moving so rapidly,” he stated. “We need to develop partnerships with the commercial sector to understand what they are doing as well as be able to leverage it to our benefit.”

Thompson re-emphasized the roles of leadership for SSC as well as other field commands that will help build a more lean and agile U.S. Space Force.

“We have to put authority and responsibility back into the hands of the senior materiel leaders to give them the authority and resources to stay engaged at a strategic level.” Thompson continued. “But leave them alone to do the business we have trained them to do.

By SSgt Andrew Moore

Space Force, Purdue Partner on STEM Education, Innovation

Monday, October 4th, 2021

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind — The Space Force established an agreement with Purdue University Sept. 29, making Purdue the latest entrant into the Space Force’s University Partnership Program.

Purdue President Mitch Daniels and Gen, David D. “DT” Thompson, USSF vice chief of space operations, signed a memorandum of agreement in Hovde Hall on the Purdue campus.

“For quite some time, Purdue’s involvement in space has expanded far beyond our distinguished history of astronauts,” Daniels said. “Our partnership with the Space Force provides yet another example of our commitment to space exploration and national security.”

The signing was part of a two-day campus visit for Thompson, who received his master’s degree in aeronautics and astronautics from the university in 1989. Thompson said the UPP will leverage the internationally-renowned research and educational opportunities available at Purdue to take on the engineering, science and technology issues facing the Space Force.

“As someone who has personally benefited from the caliber of education Purdue provides, I am excited for the next generation of Guardians who will expand their knowledge and expertise through this partnership,” Thompson said. “Those Guardians must have the STEM foundation that provides a deep understanding of the space domain to conquer the challenges of today, coupled with the confidence and commitment to solve the problems we are certain to encounter in the future.”

While on campus, Thompson met with Air Force ROTC cadets training for Space Force, as well as officers in the Purdue Military Research Initiative.

Air Force Col. Ken Callahan, currently posted with Purdue’s Air Force ROTC detachment, said Purdue graduated several ROTC students directly to the Space Force this past spring and recently welcomed several new Space Force military graduate students to campus.

“These students are just one an example of the quality of education we have at Purdue,” Callahan said. “People in the Air Force know about Purdue and its expanding connection to space and the Space Force program.”

Thompson also talked with university leaders, heard from faculty at Maurice J. Zucrow Labs and took driving tours of Purdue’s Discovery Park and the Aerospace District, a university-affiliated aerospace business hub for public and private research collaborations on research and commerce.

Purdue is one of 11 universities initially selected to join the UPP.  Establishing strategic partnerships with this select set of nationally-renowned universities allows the Space Force to recruit and educate a diverse, high-caliber workforce, offer opportunities to advance research in specific areas of interest, and develop a 21st century, technology-savvy military service. Research is the largest component of the program, with Purdue and other universities each having its own research component.

Purdue was selected on criteria including the quality of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) degree offerings and space-related research laboratories and initiatives; a robust ROTC program; a diverse student population; and degrees and programming designed to support military, veterans and their families in pursing higher education.

Following Wednesday’s signing, Purdue and the Space Force will begin working together to meet the program’s major goals, including establishing research assistantships, internship agreements, opportunities for Guardians to pursue advanced degrees and both ROTC and civilian scholarship programs.

By Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs

US Space Force Teases Prototype Service Dress

Tuesday, September 21st, 2021

“Boom!” goes the dynamite at US Space Force as yesterday they unveiled their new enlisted rank insignia and today they release the prototype of their service dress uniform with this social media post.

“Today, Chief of Space Operations Gen. John W. “Jay” Raymond unveiled the Guardian Service Dress prototype during the Air Force Association’s #ASC21.”

US Space Force Releases Enlisted Rank Insignia

Monday, September 20th, 2021

Early this year, USSF sponsored a rank insignia survey which helped inform the decision and the results are in.

Today, Chief Master Sergeant of the Space Force Roger A Towberman released the following slides which depict the new enlisted rank insignia for USSF.

38 RQS Trains to Support SpaceX, Boeing

Friday, September 3rd, 2021


Pararescuemen, aircrew flight equipment Airmen and maritime operations specialists assigned to the 38th Rescue Squadron, Moody Air Force Base, Georgia, conducted rescue training in the Banana River and Atlantic Ocean near Patrick Space Force Base, Aug. 23-27.

The 38th RQS Blue Team performed free fall jumps and equipment drops into water to prepare for potential operations supporting the SpaceX human spaceflight program and Boeing’s spaceflight program as well as other immediate response-force operations.

“When astronauts are doing their launches, we cover down in the Pacific or Atlantic Ocean,” said Tech. Sgt. Michael Galindo, 38th RQS pararescueman and Blue Team section chief. “That way, if they have an emergency and they need a bailout, we’re the rescue team on-site who would recover them from their capsule.”

In the event of a malfunction during launch, the capsule will detach itself from the rocket and jettison away from potential explosions or other hazards. The goal is for the capsule to land in an ocean where pararescue jumpers can go in and extract anyone on board.

In order to execute this type of rescue operation, the team needs to be proficient in several areas. For starters, they need to know how to safely land in the ocean with their water gear. Additionally, there are two different boat packages they need to be familiar with: a Rigging Alternate Method Boat, or RAMB, which is a deflated Combat Rubber Raiding Craft that can be dropped by parachute into the water and then inflated upon landing; and a hard duck, which is an inflated CRRC fixed to a wooden base and dropped by parachute as well.

Using these packages, Galindo said their team can load the boats with medical supplies, paddles, boat engines and anything else they would need for their rescue operations. Then, the team can drop them from cargo aircraft and jump into the drop zone immediately after to conduct their rescue mission.

“In October, we’re actually doing two weeks of additional training at Cape Canaveral to learn how to access the SpaceX and Boeing capsules … and then make sure we can get access to the astronauts,” said Capt. Trent Vonich, 38th RQS Blue Team flight commander.

Conducting these training exercises on a routine basis ensures the teams are ready to go at a moment’s notice. This level of proficiency offers a layer of comfort for the astronauts conducting launches off the coast.

“It reassures them that if they do have an emergency, they know there’s a team who is highly trained in these types of rescues,” Galindo said. “It’s important for us to constantly keep current on this type of jump because there’s a lot that goes into it.”

While this training was specifically tailored to support the human spaceflight programs, it doubles as preparation for potential rescue operations in contingency locations.

“The top two locations in which that would occur would be the Arabian Gulf and the South China Sea,” Vonich said. “Adversaries have a number of capabilities that could potentially put one of our aircraft in the water, and we would have to go jump into the gulf or sea and do exactly what we did in today’s training.”

Whether rescuing downed pilots off foreign coasts or supporting rocket launches in the U.S., the 38th RQS could not execute their mission without trusted teamwork.

“It’s a lot of work being a pararescueman,” Galindo said. “I’m surrounded by a bunch of great people who are constantly challenging me. We have those who are always trying to improve themselves, whether mentally or physically, and it just drives me to be a better person and reach my potential.”

SpaceX plans to launch a crew of three Oct. 31, and the team will be prepared to respond if needed.

“Heaven forbid anything goes wrong, we’ll be ready if it does,” Vonich said.

Story and photos by SSgt Devin Boyer, 23rd Wing Public Affairs

Additional photos by SSgt Melanie A. Bulow-Gonterman

Army Gunsmoke Satellites Successfully Deploy from Mojave Desert, International Space Station

Friday, July 16th, 2021

REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. – The U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command delivers Army space assets on orbit by any means necessary to test new capabilities for the warfighter.

The command’s first and third Gunsmoke-J satellites, a joint capability technology demonstration by the USASMDC Technical Center and Assured Position Navigation and Timing/Space Cross Functional Team, were placed into orbit, June 30, by two very different paths.

The first CubeSat was deployed from the Cygnus cargo vessel S.S. Katherine Johnson as a secondary mission shortly after it undocked from the International Space Station.

“We were very lucky to have this unique opportunity to place our satellite into orbit, and we extend our gratitude to those involved for making this a reality,” said Rebecca Nagurney, Gunsmoke deputy program manager. “What this group and our Gunsmoke-J team has accomplished over the past few months is amazing and is a testament to what true teamwork can achieve.”

The third CubeSat was air-launched into orbit by a 747 carrier aircraft from Mojave Air and Space Port in Mojave, California. It was flown out to a launch site over the Pacific Ocean, about 50 miles south of the Channel Islands. After a smooth release from the aircraft, the LauncherOne rocket ignited and propelled itself toward space, ultimately deploying its payload into an orbit approximately 500 km above the Earth’s surface.

“This deployment and same day launch of two separate Gunsmoke-J satellites is a major step toward demonstrating what we believe will be enabling tactical warfighter capability,” said Wheeler “Chip” Hardy, division chief, USASMDC Technical Center Space Directorate’s Space Applications Division. “We are excited to be at this point after five years of development. This is the culmination of a lot of hard work by a lot of people to get to this point. We look forward to the verifying demonstrations and a possible future transition of the technology to the tactical forces.”

The Gunsmoke-J science and technology effort will provide new and advanced capabilities to tactical warfighters in a satellite about the size of a loaf of bread. Its experiments will show how its sensors can provide critical data and information key in multi-domain operations. The effort will also help inform future acquisition decisions.

“We are very excited because now we can begin our checkout and mission operations as our work is part of a science and technology demonstration effort,” Nagurney said. “If the Gunsmoke experiments are successful, then this work could lead to future systems, which would enhance long-range precision fires in support of the warfighter.”

Gunsmoke and potential follow-on small satellite systems are designed to provide information or sufficient data relative to tactical decision-making that is delivered in a timely manner.

“The team has worked extremely hard on this effort so it was thrilling to watch a successful launch,” Nagurney said. “It is very rewarding to work on a program like Gunsmoke where our work is going to impact future technology and Army acquisition decisions to help support the warfighter.”

By Jason Cutshaw (USASMDC)

US Army Test Facility Recreates Space on Earth

Thursday, July 15th, 2021

REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. — Just exactly how cold is it in space?

The unofficial answer: really cold. The official answer: typically -460 degrees Fahrenheit. So how exactly would you operate a space-based sensor, which needs to detect and track very faint infrared signatures when operating in the cold vacuum of space?

That is where the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Aviation & Missile Center’s space-based sensor test facility comes into play. Its two independent space chambers, which operate under the center’s Software, Simulation, Systems Engineering and Integration Directorate, utilize cryogenic refrigeration systems to achieve the required low temperature and pressure environment. The sensor under test is installed within the space chamber, allowing it to observe a multi-spectral target generation source, with all other elements within the chamber conditioned to space-like temperatures and pressures.

“This is the closest you get to a flight test without actually being in space,” said Space Chamber team member David Riesland.

But how exactly would a sensor’s projection system survive and operate within the chamber’s lower temperature/pressure environment? A high-fidelity scene generation system provides radiometrically precise dynamic scenes to the projectors, depicting the threat engagement from the perspective of the sensor field of view. The system presents a TV-like image to the sensor under test, which changes based upon the sensor viewpoint within the simulated battlespace. This allows evaluation of the optical, photon collection, and image processing functions of the sensor under test.

Just because the facility is only two years old doesn’t mean the team gets to rest on its laurels. “We are constantly trying to keep up with the sensors,” said Space Chamber’s Daniel Saylor.

These types of chambers are very rare, which is why it is highly unusual that another space chamber exists down the road at Air Force facilities on Arnold Engineering Development Center in Tullahoma, Tennessee. But there are significant differences.

AvMC’s chambers were specifically designed for Missile Defense Agency testing, including features to extend the operational duration of test events with reduced operational costs. Their state-of-the-art technology allows AvMC’s chambers to heat and cool faster than previous capability increments. They are more limber and can operate for months at a time to allow extended duration testing for large-scale scenario studies.

Just how long of an extended duration?

“We haven’t found the limit yet,” Riesland said.

By Katie Davis Skelley, DEVCOM Aviation & Missile Center Public Affairs

SOCOM Heads to Space

Tuesday, May 18th, 2021

While there are a few SOF personnel who have joined NASA’s Astronaut Corps over the years, what SOCOM has in mind is placing sensors into Low Earth Orbit on Space Force cube satellites rather than operators.

During a briefing during yesterday’s virtual Special Operations Industry Conference presented by NDIA, Mr David Breede, the head of USSOCOM’s Program Executive Office – Special Reconnaissance (PEO-SR) discussed Program Manager Integrated Sensor Systems’ efforts to expand the Joint Threat Warning System, which is a SIGINT program of record, to the Space domain.

The plan is to test the capability during an Industry Demonstration Event at the Muscatatuck Urban Training Center in Indiana later this year.

USSOCOM Acquisition Executive Jim Smith commented that utilizing the space domain to collect information was a new thrust by PEO-SR stating, “how can we leverage space in a permissive environment?” He went on to explain that they also were working on improving how they fuse information gained from cyber, space, and small unmanned systems.

JTWS has fielded ground, air and maritime systems for decades and continues to adapt to the current operating environment.

JTWS is joined by another program of record called Processing, Exploitation and Dissemination which does exactly what the name describes to information gathered via JTWS.