Science and Technology News

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

SMC Commander Highlights Developments at 2015 Space Symposium

by Lt. Col Christina Abbott-Marks
Air Force Space Command Public Affairs

4/29/2015 - COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- Lt. Gen. Samuel A. Greaves, commander of the Air Force's Space and Missile Systems Center, spoke at the 2015 Space Symposium here on Apr. 16.  He highlighted how space is essential to the warfighter capability; how space is changing, and how SMC must change; launch competition and new development; and space risk reduction for resilience and affordability.

"These are truly exciting times for just about everything across the spectrum of space activity, and our progress would not be possible without the continued hard work, attention to detail, and focus on mission success from every member of our expert and talented government and Industry teams," said Lt. Gen. Greaves.

He went on to talk about how space is essential to the warfighter capability.

"Space systems multiply our abilities and, along with advances in the other warfighting domains, have allowed us to continue providing war winning capability to our joint and coalition forces," said Lt. Gen. Greaves. "The very lives of our warfighters, and our nation's defenses, depend upon continued collective government and industry commitment to mission success.  So, the demand for space capabilities has never been higher."

"We are supporting the demand today by completing the building out of the current generation of space systems - Advanced Extremely High Frequency system, Space-Based Infrared, and GPS IIF, and proceeding with the development of GPS III, which just last week completed mating the first satellite's system module to its propulsion module, marking a big step to getting factory production of GPS III into an efficient flow," he said. "We must now continue in earnest with developing the next generation of systems to prepare for tomorrow."

Lt. Gen. Greaves elaborated on how space is changing, and how SMC must change, citing three major trends that are influencing why and how he plans on doing that.  He said the first trend requires SMC to develop systems that are resilient to the space environment and potential adversary action; the second trend enables them to think about new architectures and ways to build the more resilient systems SMC needs; and the third trend requires SMC to place significant additional emphasis on affordability as they develop and sustain those systems.

"To achieve this, we will balance between leveraging past successes such as using the production mode we are in now to lower the costs of today's programs, while also boldly moving forward with the new systems development needed to be responsive to tomorrow's threat environment," said Lt. Gen. Greaves.

He went on to discuss how SMC is implementing guidance from the Better Buying Power 3.0.  BBP 3.0 is the third iteration of an initiative from the Under Secretary of Defense that will increase the productivity, efficiency, and effectiveness of the Department of Defense's many acquisition, technology and logistics efforts.

"We are implementing BBP 3.0...[and] are focusing on development planning," said Lt. Gen. Greaves. "Technological development can lower costs and increase resilience - if we pursue it in a disciplined way. We must retire the risks of new technologies before building new architectures around them."

"So we must align our priorities, our needs, and our funding with our systems development efforts," he continued. "To focus these efforts, we recently united our Development Planning Directorate with our Space Development and Test Directorate."

Lt. Gen. Greaves went on to discuss how the key to this is that when SMC thinks about the next generation of space systems -- about resiliency, affordability, and to him, most importantly, mission success -- they think about them as systems.

"They have a launch segment, a space segment, a ground segment and the links between them," he said. "All of these components must work correctly together in order to turn taxpayer dollars into warfighter effects."

He then asked the audience to think about launch for a moment and not being able to put something in space. If launch can't happen, there is no space capability.

"Launch is critical. We address that criticality - we make launch resilient - through a policy of assured access to space," said Lt. Gen. Greaves. "That requires at least two highly reliable launch systems as a failsafe method to allow for continued access to space should one fleet suffer a grounding event."

He then discussed how SMC plans on moving forward with certifying new entrants and preparing for tomorrow.

"As the market for space products matures, there will be more new entrants. We welcome them. We welcome ULA's new launch vehicle - and we will certify it through the same process laid out in our New Entrant Certification Guide," he said.

He went on to talk about increasing competition and making better use of industry capabilities to control costs and gain access to innovative products, but emphasized that they will not reduce mission assurance solely to allow competition.

"Focusing on mission success means applying the degree of mission assurance required to get the job done, not more, and not less," he said.

"We are making a lot of improvements today," he continued. "All of these activities, though, are still stove-piped."

According to Lt. Gen. Greaves, to truly leverage the benefits, the resilience, and the savings in manpower and money enabled by modern information technology systems, SMC needs to think about all of its ground activities as an enterprise.

Lt. Gen. Greaves summed up with, "Our warfighters, the young men and women out there in the field every day, are depending on us to do that, so they can succeed in their mission to protect the homeland and our allies. The passion, the commitment, the hard work, and the innovation all of you have demonstrated in supporting them has brought us to the exciting place we're at today."

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