by Alicia Garges
SMC Public Affairs
10/14/2015 - LOS ANGELES AIR FORCE BASE, Calif -- The
Space and Missile Systems Center's newest directorate, the Launch
Systems Enterprise Directorate (SMC/LE), stood up at a ceremony held at
Los Angeles Air Force Base on Oct. 14. Under the leadership of Dr.
Claire Leon, the new directorate brings together the Launch Systems
Directorate and the Rocket Systems Launch Program (which formerly fell
under SMC's Advance Systems and Development Directorate at Kirtland Air
Force Base, N.M.).
"Until today, the Air Force has procured and executed space launch
capabilities through two separate organizations within SMC - RSLP and
SMC/LR. This created the potential for ambiguity among our stakeholders
and a disconnect in our acquisition strategy," said Lt. Gen. Samuel
Greaves, Air Force Program Executive Officer for Space and SMC
commander. "Today, we unify Air Force space launch capabilities under
one directorate to synchronize our acquisition activities."
"Space launch is not a service for which one must come up with a value
proposition, but rather it is a must-have utility in our national policy
of assured access to space," Greaves said. "As the space environment
continues to evolve with the addition of EELV new entrants, we must
build upon that foundation to drive and provide innovative, resilient,
and affordable launch solutions for the Air Force and the nation."
The Launch Systems Directorate's mission was to acquire, operate and
sustain affordable expendable launch and range capability primarily
through the Delta II and the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle program.
Until the recent certification of the SpaceX Falcon 9, the EELV program
consisted of United Launch Alliance's Delta IV and Atlas V rockets.
The Rocket Systems Launch Program mission was to execute several small
to medium launches, deliver realistic targets for Missile Defense
Agency's test program, and provide oversight of available Peacekeeper
rocket motors. The LE directorate will bring the best of these two
The new directorate's mission is to be the "guardian of assured access:
launching when and where the nation needs it." LE's vision statement is
to be the most respected and innovative spacelift team, delivering
mission success while enabling a robust U.S. launch industry.
"This realignment will not only advance our capability development, but
will feed into the next generation of SMC's space systems and into
architectural baselines for decades to come," Greaves said.
At the ceremony the general tasked Dr. Leon to remain laser-focused in
SMC's goal to provide the nation with persistent global access to space.
During the ceremony, the general called for the publishing of orders.
Headquarters Air Force Space Command special order dated Sept. 11 states
that the Launch Systems Directorate and the Rocket Systems Launch
Program are hereby realigned to form the Launch Systems Enterprise
Directorate, assigned to the Space and Missile Systems Center, Los
Angeles Air Force Base, Calif. After the orders were read, Dr. Leon
officially accepted the leadership of the Launch Systems Enterprise
"This is an exciting and dynamic time in the launch industry with robust
design efforts and reintroducing competition for launch," said Dr.
Her priorities for the new directorate are to continue our focus on
mission success, provide continuing assured access to space, transition
from the use of RD-180 engines and reintroduce new launch competition.
At the ceremony, the new directorate's shield was unveiled. The design
features a dragon, which is the Launch Directorate's mascot. The
bullseye symbolizes delivering the spacecraft into the perfect orbit.
The four stars symbolize the four types of rocket configurations (heavy,
medium, light and extra light). One of the stars resembles one of the
stars in the California state flag symbolizing where SMC is located.
Another star is the Zia Sun symbol found on the New Mexico state flag
and the AD Directorate logo. Kirtland Air Force Base is located in
Albuquerque, N.M. The single deltoid symbol symbolizes the launch
vehicle. The motto" Per Audacia Ad Astra" means "Through Boldness to