by Chris Calkins
45th Space Wing Public Affairs
2/12/2014 - PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Hawaii -- Lt.
Col. Samuel A. Little, director of operations, 45th Launch Support
Squadron was recently named by the National Space Club as recipient of
the prestigious General Bernard Schriever Award, honoring excellence in
military space operations and acquisition.
Little was selected by a panel of experts from across the aerospace and
defense industry. He will be presented the award at the National Space
Club's Goddard Memorial Dinner on March 7 in our nation's capital. The
annual Dr. Robert H. Goddard Memorial Dinner is the major event of the
Washington space calendar, first celebrated in 1958.
A 1997 graduate from the University of Florida, and a Central Florida
native, Little was commissioned through the Air Force ROTC program.
He never thought his career path would reach to the stars. He didn't pick Space as a career; Space picked him.
"As an environmental engineering major at UF, I fully expected an Air
Force assignment in the Civil Engineer arena. But that didn't happen,"
"Only one of us went the CE route and the rest were commissioned as 62Es
[Developmental Engineer]. "In addition, I was selected for the
Operational Space and Missile Tour program. That program put me in an
operational space and missile tour for my first assignment and then sent
me to an acquisition tour second.
"So, I went to Undergraduate Space and Missile Training at Vandenberg
AFB and on to the 3rd Space Ops Squadron as a satellite vehicle
operator," he added.
He has been a member of the 45th Space Wing Sharks since 2011.
According to Col. Matthew Skeen, commander, 45th Launch Group, Little
successfully led his squadron as they integrated and launched six
Department of Defense satellites, provided Air Force support to three
successful Falcon 9 launches and piloted the groundbreaking Global
Positioning System III pathfinder satellite.
Little, who acknowledged great honor in earning the award, said any
accolades that come his way are a reflection on the team he is a part
of, and the magnitude of the work they do.
"The best part of our team's job here at the Cape is hearing that the
spacecrafts we ushered through launch have been fully checked out and
are entering operational life," Little said.
"That means we did everything right and gives us a huge sense of
accomplishment. Building on that, we've gotten feedback from the users
of these satellites about the impact they have on missions close to home
and downrange," Little said.
"Our team also works with the Falcon 9 program on their certification
effort to become a DoD launch provider. So seeing a successful Falcon 9
launch is a huge reward for us."
He also emphasized how little room [meaning none] there is for error in his unit's job performance.
"One hundred percent mission success is our driver for how we manage our
force. We have one shot at success in the launch mission and these
satellites are crucial to the nation," Little said with emphasis.
"We instill this mindset in all our folks to keep them focused on
mission assurance and doing all they can to ensure a successful
He also said there is always room for improving his unit's methods and processes.
"We also look to innovate in the manner we conduct mission assurance
activities. We are always re-evaluating our mission execution after each
launch to identify areas where we can improve or change processes to
bolster mission assurance. We have to do this to be successful now and
in the future," he said.
"Colonel Little led the squadron to a flawless performance in a year
with the most demanding operations tempo in the squadron's history,"
wrote Brig. Gen. Nina Armagno, commander, 45th Space Wing, in a
memorandum to Air Force Space Command Headquarters.
"Sam also guided his team of young military engineers and experienced
Noncommissioned Officers as they adapted to a dynamic schedule. He also
leveraged his unrivaled space operations expertise and extraordinary
leadership ability to make invaluable contributions to our nation's
space capabilities this year," she wrote.