Air Force Stands Up New Headquarters Space Directorate

WASHINGTON (AFNS) — Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson has approved the reorganization of the Air Force headquarters to establish a Deputy Chief of Staff for Space Operations, who will be a three-star Air Force general officer.

“This is the next step in our effort to integrate, normalize and elevate space operations in the Air Force,” said Wilson. “The United States is dependent on space and our adversaries know it. We must organize and train forces to be able to prevail in any future conflict which could extend into space.”

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Crew Dragon Trainer Takes Shape at Kennedy

Dan Burbank and Victor Glover inside the Crew Dragon model (Credit: NASA)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — NASA and SpaceX engineers are working together at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida to build a full-scale Crew Dragon model, or Recovery Trainer, that will be used by the U.S. Air Force to perform flight-like rescue and recovery training exercises in the open ocean later this year.

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SpaceX Falcon 9 to Launch X-37B Space Plane

X-37B after landing at Vandenberg Air Force Base on June 16, 2012. (Credit: Boeing/USAF)

Reuters reports that SpaceX will launch the U.S. Air Force’s  X-37B space plane in August.

Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson made the announcement during testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday, the news service reports.

Four previous X-37B missions have been launched aboard ULA’s Atlas V boosters.

The U.S. Air Force has two X-37B spacecraft, which are used to test new technologies on orbit. One vehicle landed in Florida on May 7 after spending a record 718 days in space.

U.S. Air Force Awards Four Study Contracts for Weather Mission

LOS ANGELES AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. — Air Force Space Command’s Space and Missile Systems Center recently awarded four study contracts worth approximately $500,000 each to EO Vista, Millennium Space Systems, Orbital ATK, and Raytheon Company – Space and Airborne Systems. These companies will provide concept reports to address space-based cloud characterization and theater weather imagery solutions by the end of fiscal year 2019.

Currently, the Air Force relies on the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP) and other programs to provide cloud characterization, whereby satellites analyze cloud detection, cover and temperature, and, theater weather imagery, whereby satellites record visible satellite images of atmospheric conditions. Together, these missions are referred to as Space Based Environmental Monitoring (SBEM) Electro Optical Infrared (EO/IR) capabilities. The SBEM EO/IR mission has been performed by the DMSP satellite constellation for over 50 years and the Air Force is exploring new long-term solutions to continue this mission.

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Defense Officials Describe Priorities for Operating in Contested Space Domain

A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Delta IV rocket carrying AFSPC-6 mission lifts off from Space Launch Complex-37. (Credit: ULA)

By Cheryl Pellerin
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, May 22, 2017 — Space enables everything the joint force does and the national security space architecture must protect and defend that capability in a contested environment, officials from the Air Force, the intelligence community and the Defense Department told a House panel in recent testimony.

Air Force Gen. John Raymond, commander of Air Force Space Command and Air Force Lt. Gen. David Buck, commander of the Joint Functional Component-Space for the U.S. Strategic Command testified last week before the House Armed Services Committee on priorities and posture of the national security space enterprise for fiscal year 2018.

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Defense Leaders Testify on Space Posture

Gen. John Raymond, the Air Force Space Command commander, testifies with Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson and Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein before the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Strategic Forces May 17, 2017, in Washington, D.C. Sharing the panel with them were Lt. Gen. Samuel Greaves, the Space and Missile Systems Center commander and Cristina Chapin, the General Accounting Office director of acquisition and sourcing management. The committee examined military space organization, policy, and programs. (U.S. Air Force photo/Scott M. Ash)

By Staff Sgt. Alyssa C. Gibson,
Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs

WASHINGTON (AFNS) —

On May 17, 2017, Air Force senior leaders testified before the Senate Armed Service Committee Strategic Forces subcommittee on military space, organization, policy and programs.
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Senate Confirms Wilson as U.S. Air Force Secretary

Heather Wilson (Credit: U.S. Air Force/Scott M. Ash)

WASHINGTON (AFNS) — Heather Wilson will be the next secretary of the Air Force, following her confirmation by the Senate May 8, 2017.

Wilson, who is stepping down from her position as the president of the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology to take the post, is expected to be sworn in within a week.

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X-37B Space Plane Lands at Kennedy Space Center

The X-37B spacecraft after landing on May 7, 2017. (Credit: USAF)

WASHINGTON, DC (AFNS) — The X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle mission 4 (OTV-4), the Air Force’s unmanned, reusable space plane, landed at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center Shuttle Landing Facility May 7, 2017.

“Today marks an incredibly exciting day for the 45th Space Wing as we continue to break barriers,” said Brig. Gen. Wayne Monteith, the 45th SW commander. “Our team has been preparing for this event for several years, and I am extremely proud to see our hard work and dedication culminate in today’s safe and successful landing of the X-37B.”
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Video: X-37 Space Plane Lands After Nearly 2 Years in Orbit

Video Caption: The Air Force’s X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle mission 4 landed at NASA ‘s Kennedy Space Center Shuttle Landing Facility May 7, 2017. Managed by the Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office, the X-37B program is the newest and most advanced re-entry spacecraft that performs risk reduction, experimentation and concept of operations development for reusable space vehicle technologies.

AIA Policy Recommendations for Improving U.S. Space Competitiveness


Engine for Growth:
Analysis and Recommendations for U.S. Space Industry Competitiveness

Aerospace Industries Association
May 2017
[Full Report]

Policy Recommendations
for Strengthening U.S. Space Competitiveness

1. Level the Playing Field

Provide a responsive regulatory environment for commercial space activities. The list of commercial space activities is varied and growing, ranging from traditional applications such as satellite telecommunications to emerging ones like space resource utilization. At the same time, the U.S. space industry is governed by multiple federal agencies with disparate regulatory interests, including the Federal Communications Commission, the Federal Aviation Administration and Departments of State and Commerce. These agencies often suffer from funding and staffi ng shortages, a situation that creates bottlenecks in licensing processes and slows responsiveness to technological and market changes. The new Administration should work closely with Congress to ensure that the appropriate space regulatory agencies are fully resourced and staffed.
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Design Evolution: Lockheed Martin is using 3-D Printed Parts for U.S. Military Satellites

New process cuts more than four months out of the manufacturing lead time for a component onboard the U.S. Air Force’s AEHF-6 satellite

SUNNYVALE, Calif. (Lockheed Martin PR) — When the U.S. Air Force’s sixth Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF-6) satellite launches into space, a 3-D printed part will be along for the ride. A Remote Interface Unit, an aluminum electronic enclosure designed to hold avionic circuits, will be the first 3-D printed part certified for use on a Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) military satellite.

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U.S. Air Force Open to Launching on Used SpaceX Falcon 9

Reused Falcon 9 first stage after landing on drone ship. (Credit: SpaceX webcast)

The head of U.S. Air Force Space Command has said the service is open to flying on a Falcon 9 rocket with a used first stage.

The comments, made by Gen. Jay Raymond during Space Symposium, could reflect the service’s willingness to use cutting-edge technologies to drive down the cost of launch services — that is, once the technology has been proven.

“This is just beginning. They’ve only flown one,” he said. “I think the industry is going to go this way. I think the reduced cost of this is going to drive industry this way. I don’t think we can say we won’t follow suit. We will make sure we do it in a smart way, and as this materializes we will make sure that we have the processes in place to do it safely and securely.”

SpaceX broke new ground March 30 with the launch and recovery of a Falcon 9 built with a previously-used first stage, and this week’s space bonanza provided a venue for the the company to take a victory lap. During a Wednesday speech, Gwynne Shotwell, the company’s president and chief operating officer, called reusability a tremendous capability that ushers in a new era of space launch.

“I think the other launch providers, or most of the other launch providers — certainly the ones are flying now — think that it’s not worth it. That for their particular technology, it doesn’t work for them,” she said. “I think you’ll see that position changing, but it worked for us.”

Read the full story.

USAF Announces Major Changes to Space Enterprise

WASHINGTON, (AFNS) — The Air Force announced five major organization and management changes to its space enterprise April 4, 2017.

“For decades, the men and women of our Air Force delivered effects from space to give our joint warfighting forces in the field a distinct advantage over their adversaries,” said acting Secretary of the Air Force Lisa S. Disbrow. “The Air Force has been researching, experimenting, and implementing plans for several years to evolve our space systems to both protect our interests in space and be more resilient in the face of potential threats. The time has come to adapt our organization and management structure to reflect the reality that space is a joint warfighting domain.”
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ULA’s Delta IV Launches U.S. Air Force Satellite

Delta IV rocket launches the WGS-9 satellite. (Credit: ULA)

CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION, Fla., March 18, 2017 (ULA PR) – A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Delta IV rocket carrying the ninth Wideband Global SATCOM (WGS-9) satellite for the United States Air Force lifted off from Space Launch Complex-37 on March 18 at 8:18 p.m. EST.

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SpaceX Wins U.S. Air Force Launch Contract

The Autonomous Flight Safety System first flew from the Eastern Range on SpaceX’s Falcon 9 CRS-10 Feb. 19, 2017. The use of AFSS reduces range space lift costs through reductions in range equipment maintenance and upgrades. (Credit: SpaceX)

The U.S. Air Force has awarded SpaceX a contract worth $96,500,490 to launch a GPS III satellite aboard a Falcon 9 booster.

The service announced the contract on a DOD procurement website on Tuesday. The announcement gives a completion date of April 30, 2019.

“This award is the result of a competitive acquisition with two offers received,” the announcement states. United Launch Alliance (ULA) is the only other company with launch vehicles certified to fly payloads of this class.

The is the second contract the U.S. Air Force has awarded SpaceX for a GPS III launch. ULA did not submit a bid for the previous award.