by Jeanne Dailey Air Force Research Laboratory Public Affairs
KIRTLAND AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. (AFRL) — The Air Force Research Laboratory Space Vehicles Directorate spaceflight experiment Recurve was launched July 2, 2022, from the Mojave Air and Space Port on the Virgin Orbit space system in California. The launch supported the U.S. Space Force’s STP-S28A mission and carried six additional payloads for the Department of Defense Space Test Program (STP).
Recurve is the latest in several low-cost CubeSats designed, built and operated entirely in house at the Space Vehicles Directorate located on Kirtland AFB.
KIRTLAND AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. (AFRL PE) — The Air Force Research Laboratory recently announced the assignment of its Space Vehicles Directorate director, Col. Eric J. Felt, to a position with the U.S. Space Force as Deputy Executive Director for the Space Architecture, Science and Technology Directorate at the Pentagon, with an effective date in July.
Felt has led the AFRL Space Vehicles Directorate, located at Kirtland AFB, since July 2018, and serves in a dual-hatted role as commander of the Phillips Research Site, which encompasses military command authority for AFRL’s Space Vehicles and Directed Energy Directorates.
As director, Felt leads a team of more than 1,080 military, civilian and on-site contractors who comprise the nation’s center of excellence for military space science and technology. The directorate focuses on enduring Space Force space missions: communications; position navigation and timing; missile warning; space domain awareness; and space control.
By Dr. Jack Drummond Air Force Research Laboratory
KIRTLAND AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. — On November 29, 2021, an Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) Starfire Optical Range (SOR)* telescope on Kirtland Air Force Base near Albuquerque, New Mexico, recorded an image of asteroid (22) Kalliope, and its natural satellite Linus. A confirming image was taken four nights later. What is unique about these observations is the small size of the telescope used, only 1.5 meters in diameter.
Normally the purview of large 8 to10-m diameter telescopes on mountain tops in Hawaii or Chile, asteroids are faint to begin with — and their satellites even fainter – orbiting very close to their parent. Detecting them requires large telescopes, since faintness limits are proportional to telescope mirror area and resolution is proportional to telescope diameter. In all cases, adaptive optics (AO) is required to defeat the turbulence of the atmosphere by making the point sources (stars) much smaller and brighter.
KIRTLAND AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. (AFRL PR) – The Air Force Research Laboratory’s and Northrop Grumman’s Space Solar Power Incremental Demonstrations and Research (SSPIDR) Project have successfully conducted the first end-to-end demonstration of key hardware for the Arachne flight experiment.
A ground demonstration of novel components for the “sandwich tile” were used to successfully convert solar energy to radio frequency (RF) – a fundamental step required to pave the way for a large-scale solar power collection system in space.
KIRTLAND AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. (AFRL PR) — The Air Force Research Laboratory’s Space Vehicles Directorate small satellite named Ascent was launched Dec. 7 from Cape Canaveral, Florida as part of the U.S. Space Force’s Space Test Program-3 mission, aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket.
Ascent is a 12-unit Cubesat conceived and developed within the directorate’s Small Satellite Portfolio at Kirtland AFB, and in partnership with the Space Security and Defense Program.
WASHINGTON – A joint-U.S. Naval Research Laboratory/NASA experiment prepares to investigate the origins of Solar Energetic Particles (SEPs) that could affect Navy satellites and harm personnel during future crewed missions to the moon and beyond.
Researchers will use a new instrument, the Ultraviolet Spectro-Coronagraph Pathfinder (UVSC Pathfinder) to try to understand the origins of these particles, how they’re generated close into the sun to provide accurate space weather forecasting when these events happen.
KIRTLAND AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. (AFRL) – New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology (NMT) astronomers are one-step closer to having their own high-powered window to space and the universe, after receiving congressional funding for the Magdalena Ridge Observatory Interferometer (MROI).
The university will receive $6.2 million in congressional funds to complete the first phase of the anticipated $30 million five-year project to build three telescopes and two scientific instruments of the MROI in Socorro, New Mexico.
WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, OHIO (AFRL PR) – The Air Force Research Laboratory has selected Dr. Andrew Williams for the Deputy Technology Engagement Officer for Space Science and Technology (D-TEO), overseeing the lab’s responsibility to carry out the U.S. Space Force mission.
KIRTLAND AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. (AFRL PR) – The Air Force Research Laboratory’s Space Vehicles Directorate held an inaugural Space Cyber Summit October 13–14. More than 140 space professionals participated in the in-person and virtual event held at Kirtland AFB.
The gathering included space experts from across AFRL, the U.S. Space Force, several federally funded research and development centers, NASA, and many other organizations.
Col. Eric Felt, director of AFRL’s Space Vehicles Directorate, initiated the first-ever event, prompted by anticipated R&D technology challenges:
A future space domain where space systems will become increasingly software-defined, autonomous, and connected
Possible methods to improve cyber resilience of legacy space systems
The continuing trend of the commercialization of space
Controversial decision announced one week before Trump left office
Colorado’s leaders says comments confirm that political factors, not merit, led to decision
Two separate government investigations continue into move
by Douglas Messier Managing Editor
Former president Donald Trump claimed on Friday to have “single-handedly” moved the U.S. Space Command from Colorado to Alabama, adding fuel to the political firestorm that erupted over the controversial decision earlier this year.
“Space Force — I sent to Alabama,” Trump said. “I hope you know that. (They) said they were looking for a home and I single-handedly said, ‘Let’s go to Alabama.’ They wanted it. I said, ‘Let’s go to Alabama. I love Alabama,” Trump told the Alabama-based Rick & Bubba radio program.
By Jeanne Dailey U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory
KIRTLAND AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. — The Air Force Research Laboratory Space Vehicles Directorate broke ground on a new facility named the Skywave Technology Laboratory on March 16. The 3,500 square foot, $3.5 million lab will be located in a remote area on Kirtland Air Force Base.
KIRTLAND AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. — Recently, the Air Force Safety Center transferred the Space Safety Division to the United States Space Force as one of the first blended organizations in the Department. Already charged with supporting both services, this transfer serves to leverage the Center’s expertise doubling down on space safety for both services.
The Safety Center’s Space Safety Division will continue to call Kirtland Air Force Base home, while remaining steadfast in their commitment to promote and enhance space mishap prevention and a risk management culture in the USSF.
Officials from New Mexico, the federal government and Virgin Galactic met last week behind closed doors for the state’s first Space Valley Summit to form a “collaboratory” to promote Spaceport America and the state’s aerospace economy.
The one group not invited: taxpayers who have forked over about $250 million to build the spaceport where Virgin Galactic is the anchor tenant. As the Las Cruces Sun News dryly noted
Minutes after [Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham] exhorted the summit to “make sure every New Mexican … knows exactly what is happening here,” all reporters were asked to leave.