AFOTEC Officials Hold First Space Summit

Space Sentinel
Space Sentinel

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Maj. Gen. Stephen T. Sargeant, commander of the Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center at Kirtland Air Force Base, NM, hosted the organization’s first space summit July 1 and 2.Senior leaders from AFOTEC, the Under Secretary of the Air Force Directorate of Space Acquisition, the National Geospatial and Intelligence Agency, Air Force Space Command, the Space and Missile Systems Center and the Air Force Research Laboratory gathered to discuss the space capabilities’ acquisition process, focusing on improving operational test and evaluation, or OT and E.

“We’ve been applying a Ford (aircraft) testing model to a Toyota (space) production model and it just doesn’t fit,” said General Sargeant.

“We need to find a better way to conduct space OT and E in order to provide better decision quality data to the space acquisition and operational decision-makers. We are rapidly moving away from a process that looks like (standardization evaluation) after launch or fielding, to early and continuous involvement throughout the development and fielding of a new space capability.”

Col. Suzanne Beers, the commander of AFOTEC’s Detachment 4 at Colorado Springs, Colo., led the Space OT and E Summit colonel’s working group participants on the first day of the summit to create a new space testing model proposal that will involve early, continuous testing by both the developmental and operational testers. The operational testing community will be involved from concept definition through system development to system operation, informing key decisions throughout the acquisition process.

During the second day of the summit, Colonel Beers briefed the new proposed space testing model to the general officers and senior executive service leaders who endorsed the proposal. AFOTEC officials now will introduce the model to the other operational test agencies, Headquarters Air Force and the Office of the Secretary of Defense.

“This was a very worthwhile event,” said Doug Loverro, Space and Missile Center executive director. “What we were here to do was to look at a new way to test space systems. The working group came up with something that really makes sense and everyone is on the same sheet of music. I feel very positive about where we are heading.”

“I think this is an overdue initiative to extend operational testing into the earlier phases of the acquisition process and it makes imminently good sense,” said Dr. David Hardy, Air Force Research Laboratory associate director of space technology.

“It could have a real major impact on how we produce systems and how we produce them efficiently. This event had some really solid thinking and excellent teamwork. I applaud AFOTEC for getting the right people together and getting this initiative moving. If you take too big of steps you can fail, but the right set of incremental steps can get you to the envisioned goal.”

“The event was very productive and we ended at a place where we can take the next step,” said Michele Williams, National Geospatial and Intelligence Agency chief of future systems.

“The step isn’t so big that we’ll stumble, but it’s a reasonable step. I think we actually set a precedent for a way forward, especially where we’ve had separate paths before. This is to the credit of AFOTEC who brought us together. We started with the right focus with the end user in mind who is the ultimate benefactor.”

(AFPN)

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