Test Pilot School Graduates First Space Test Fundamentals Class

By 1st Lt. Christine Saunders
U.S. Air Force Test Center Public Affairs

EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. — The U.S. Air Force Test Pilot School graduated the first-ever Space Test Fundamentals class April 6, 2021, at Edwards Air Force Base, California. Fifteen enlisted, officer, civilian Airmen and Guardians represent the first class dedicated to testing within the newly contested domain of Space.

Gen. John W. “Jay” Raymond, the U.S. Space Force chief of space operations, was on-hand to give the graduation address.

“You were handpicked from a pool of over 160 applicants, not only to attend this inaugural Space Test course, but also to help us build this course and define its future as the initial Space Test cadre,” said Raymond. “You were the “Beta testers” of the course itself, simultaneously studying hard and developing the future of our space test education and training program.”

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Space Systems Command to be Located in Los Angeles

ARLINGTON, Va. (U.S. Space Force PR — The Space Force released the organizational structure for its new Space Systems Command April 8. The Command is set to officially stand up in summer 2021 once all required conditions are met to re-designate the Space and Missile Systems Center at Los Angeles Air Force Base, California, as SSC headquarters.

SSC will rapidly identify, prototype, and field innovative, space-based solutions to deliver swift and responsive space capabilities to meet the demands of the National Defense Strategy.

“Space Systems Command’s organizational structure was purpose-built to anticipate and be responsive to the challenges presented by a contested space domain,” said Gen. John W. “Jay” Raymond, USSF chief of space operations. “We took the SMC 2.0 transformation of 2019 to the next level, aligning missions and organizations, and pushing authorities down from the three-star level to lower echelons in order to reduce cost and go fast. This will allow us to move at speed in delivering the resilient space capabilities necessary to stay ahead of a growing threat.”

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U.S. Space Force Awards $280 Million Contract Extension to Bluestaq for Unified Data Library

Work will significantly increase the scope of the Unified Data Library

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Bluestaq PR) – Bluestaq LLC today announced a two-year, $280M extension to its current Advanced Command and Control Enterprise Systems and Software (ACCESS) contract by the General Services Administration (GSA). This contract modification will allow Bluestaq to continue the development and data integration of the Unified Data Library (UDL) for the US Space Force Space and Missile Systems Center Data Program Management Office.

This award follows Bluestaq’s 2019 $37 million GSA Phase III SBIR contract award to integrate data supporting Space and Air and Multi-domain operations. In support of Space Force operations, Bluestaq will continue to build a secure, modern data management platform from a wide range of sources spanning commercial, Department of Defense (DoD), and the United States Intelligence Community (IC).

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Blue Origin Suddenly Gets Chatty, Announces Launch Delay

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Unlike other commercial space companies I could name (I know who they are, even if they don’t), Blue Origin rarely speaks unless it actually has something to say. So, when videos suddenly appeared on Twitter this morning with tours of the company’s facilities to show their progress on the new New Glenn rocket, I figured it had to be something important.

Sure enough, it was. New Glenn’s maiden flight is now delayed until the fourth quarter of 2022. The original plan was to launch in 2020, and then later this year. Things are clearly progressing slower than anticipated.

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L3Harris Awarded $137 Million Contract for Four Additional Payload Mission Data Units for GPS III Follow-on

MELBOURNE, Fla. — L3Harris Technologies (NYSE:LHX) has received contracts totaling $137 million for four navigation payload Mission Data Units (MDU) for future GPS III Follow-on (GPS IIIF) satellites.

Lockheed Martin, the prime contractor for GPS III/IIIF, selected L3Harris in 2018 to design and build the first two fully-digital MDUs, the heart of the satellite’s navigation payload. The MDU generates more powerful GPS signals and assures clock operations for GPS users.

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Slingshot Aerospace Names Melanie Stricklan CEO and Gets Laser-Focused on Space Initiatives

Melanie Stricklan (Credit: Slingshot Aerospace)

David Godwin remains Chairman of the Board and will focus on corporate development

AUSTIN, Texas & EL SEGUNDO, Calif.–(Slingshot Aerospace PR)–Slingshot Aerospace, Inc., a leader in situational awareness technology, announced today that the company’s Co-founder Melanie Stricklan has been named Chief Executive Officer effective immediately as the company gets laser-focused on space. Co-founder and former CEO David Godwin will remain active within the company as Chairman of the Board where he will focus on expanding corporate development activities.

“We are honored to have gained such amazing traction in the space industry by securing contracts with customers like the U.S. Space Force and NASA that are not only paragons of the domain, but are critical to our nation’s defense, progress, and way of life,” said Stricklan. “We have an extraordinary team, including a number of space domain experts, and we look forward to putting an even greater focus on the industry across public and private sectors to make a bigger impact on the world.”

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USSF Becomes 18th Member of Intel Community

WASHINGTON (DoD PR) — Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe today welcomed the U.S. Space Force (USSF) as the 18th member of the U.S. Intelligence Community (IC). 

During an afternoon ceremony, Ratcliffe and Chief of Space Operations Gen. John W. “Jay” Raymond announced the designation of the intelligence element of the U.S. Space Force as a member of the IC. 

“This accession reaffirms our commitment to securing outer space as a safe and free domain for America’s interests,” said Ratcliffe. “American power in space is stronger and more unified than ever before. Today we welcome Space Force to the Intelligence Community and look forward to the power and ingenuity of a space security team unrivaled by any nation.”

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Lockheed Martin Wins $4.9 Billion Contract for 3 Missile Warning Satellites

The Pentagon has awarded Lockheed Martin a contract worth $4.9 billion to build three Next-Generation Overhead Persistent Infrared satellites to warn of incoming missiles.

The contract also covers “delivery of ground mission unique software and ground sensor processing software. Additionally, this modification includes engineering support for launch vehicle integration and launch and early on-orbit checkout for all three” spacecraft for the U.S. Space Force.

“Work will be performed in Sunnyvale, California, and is expected to be completed May 31, 2028.  Fiscal 2021 research, development, test and evaluation funds in the amount of $99,000,000 are being obligated at the time of award,” the Pentagon said in its announcement.

Japan’s Office of National Space Policy Signs MOU with U.S. Space Force

ARLINGTON, Va. (U.S. Space Force PR) — The U.S. Space Force and Japan’s Office of National Space Policy signed an historic Memorandum of Understanding this week to launch two U.S. payloads on Japan’s Quasi Zenith Satellite System. 

The Department of the Air Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center is developing the payloads, which feature Space Domain Awareness optical sensors and will launch from Japan’s Tanegashima Space Center in 2023 and 2024, respectively. Enhancing Space Domain Awareness is essential to protect the space operations of the U.S, Japan, and other partners. A secure, stable, and accessible space domain is critical to our national security, the health of our respective economies, and enables scientific endeavors which provide environmental benefits. 

Secretary of the Air Force Barbara Barrett hailed the agreement. 

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U.S. Space Force Members to be Known as Guardians

ARLINGTON, Va. (U.S. Space Force PR) — Today, after a yearlong process that produced hundreds of submissions and research involving space professionals and members of the general public, we can finally share with you the name by which we will be known: Guardians.

The opportunity to name a force is a momentous responsibility. Guardians is a name with a long history in space operations, tracing back to the original command motto of Air Force Space Command in 1983, “Guardians of the High Frontier.”

The name Guardians connects our proud heritage and culture to the important mission we execute 24/7, protecting the people and interest of the U.S. and its allies.

Guardians. Semper Supra!

Statement from the President on the National Space Policy

Donald Trump (Credit: Michael Vadon)

WASHINGTON, DC (White House PR) — The new National Space Policy is my plan for how the executive branch will advance United States interests in space for the benefit of the American people.  By charting a clear course for United States space activities, this policy reaffirms our leadership in the space domain and our status as the world’s foremost spacefaring nation.

This policy represents a whole-of-government approach that recognizes space as a national imperative.  After years of drift, my Administration revived the United States space enterprise to once again unleash our unmatched pioneering potential. 

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Two USAF Facilities in Florida Designated as Space Force Bases

Vice President of the United States Mike Pence looks on as the signage is revealed re-designating Patrick Air Force Base to Patrick Space Force Base at a ceremony at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Dec. 9, 2020. (Credit: U.S. Space Force)

By Charles Pope
Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs

ARLINGTON, Va. (AFNS) —  Cape Canaveral Air Force Station and Patrick Air Force Base were formally re-designated Dec. 9, as facilities central to the mission of the U.S. Space Force during a ceremony rich in symbolism that further confirmed the nation’s commitment to operating in and defending space.

Vice President Mike Pence announced the decision to shift the designation of Cape Canaveral Air Force Station to Cape Canaveral Space Force Station and Patrick Air Force Base to Patrick Space Force Base during a formal ceremony at Cape Canaveral.

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Space Force Launches SpaceWERX Accelerator

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio (AFNS) — AFWERX kicked-off its inaugural Accelerate event Dec. 7 with an exciting announcement on the formation of SpaceWERX, a new entity that will focus on technologies for the United States Space Force.

“As we approach the first anniversary of our newest Service, the United States Space Force, we also celebrate the opening of the first space-focused innovation hub at Los Angeles Air Force Base,” said Secretary of the Air Force Barbara Barrett.

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GPS III SV04 Receives Operational Acceptance

LOS ANGELES AIR FORCE BASE, Calif.–Global Positioning System III Space Vehicle (SV) 04 received United States Space Force’s Operational Acceptance approval on Dec. 1- marking yet another significant milestone for the GPS III program, Space and Missile Systems Center and USSF.

It is the fourth GPS III satellite delivered into the operational constellation in the past 12 months and the second in the past three months. Additionally, this is the first GPS III vehicle delivered to the warfighter through an expedited satellite control authority transfer process, which cuts ten days off the previous operational acceptance timeline. 

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