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Officials Hail Rome NY Lab’s Foray Into Quantum Technology

Article by Dave Gymburch                              June 17, 2020                             (romesentinel.com)

• On June 15-16th , the Air Force Research Laboratory headquartered at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio sponsored a 2-day event in Rome, New York wherein small tech businesses could make a 20-minute pitch to senior Air Force officials as to novel approaches to advance quantum-enabling technology and applications. The program ultimately awarded 36 contracts to 23 companies from nine states, amounting to $5.4 million to small businesses.

• Rome Lab, the Air Force’s ‘super laboratory’ for science and technology, was praised by a Pentagon official for its key role in quantum technology research. Assistant secretary of the Air Force for acquisition, technology and logistics, Will Roper, said during a keynote session that Quantum technology is “one of those potential game-changers.” “What we hope to do… with Rome Lab leading the way, (is to) get that quantum technology over the goal line and into the warfighter’s hands,” said Roper.

• Roper praised New York Congressman Anthony Brindisi for the work being done at Rome Lab, formally known as the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) Information Directorate, and spoke about the importance of research for quantum development and the funding to support it.

• Quantum technology is considered an emerging field of physics and engineering, which relies on principles of quantum physics. Among potential impacts of quantum technology include GPS-like precision in locations where there is no GPS signal or it is severely degraded; ultra-secure global communication networks; high-precision sensors linked together with a quantum network; new computing paradigms for optimization of asset and resource allocations, discovery of new materials, and novel applications of artificial intelligence.

• Congressman Brindisi expressed the importance to bring together small business, industry, and academia with Department of Defense labs for “faster and more efficient development of quantum technology.”

• Rome Lab Director Colonel Timothy Lawrence said the event will hopefully be a “step in the right direction” for giving the Air Force, Space Force and the nation what is needed regarding quantum development.

 

                      Dr. Will Roper

Rome Lab’s key role in quantum technology research was praised by a Pentagon official during a two-day event aimed at enhancing small businesses’ involvement in the initiative.

Quantum technology is “one of those potential game-changers,” said Will Roper, assistant secretary of the Air Force for acquisition, technology and logistics, during a keynote session Monday for the virtual quantum collider pitch event.

“What we hope to do…the Air Force and the Space Force, with Rome Lab leading the way, is put year-after-year routine demand, routine challenges…routine funding to

Colonel Timothy Lawrence

bring Q-Day, the day we get that quantum technology over the goal line and into the warfighter’s hands…where we bring that early,” said Roper.

Earlier in the session after Congressman Anthony Brindisi spoke about the importance of research for quantum development and the funding to support it, Roper said “I applaud you for thinking ahead and making sure that all quantum roads lead to Rome…and really appreciate all the work the lab is doing in your district.” Rome Lab, based at Griffiss Park, is formally known as the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) Information Directorate.

Roper was among several speakers at the event, which included small businesses in private 20-minute pitch sessions with senior officials for novel approaches to advance quantum-enabling technology and/or applications. The AFRL program called for awarding up to 36 contracts and up to $5.4 million to small businesses in this phase of the initiative.

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Space Force Considering NASA-Style Partnerships With Private Companies

Article by Sandra Erwin                           June 4, 2020                          (spacenews.com)

• The launch of a SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule on May 30th that took NASA astronauts to the International Space Station was the “culmination of perhaps the most successful private-public partnership of all times,” said Colonel Eric Felt, head of the Air Force Research Laboratory’s (AFRL) Space Vehicles Directorate. In a SpaceNews online event June 4th, Felt noted that Space Force will be far smaller than the other U.S. military services, so it plans to follow the NASA playbook and team up with the private sector. “The Space Force is going to be the most high tech of all of the services,” said Felt.

• Public-private partnerships, like deals with SpaceX and Boeing, have saved NASA billions of dollars. There are many commercial capabilities that can be used to meet military needs, with “hybrid architecture”. For example, commercial companies already have powerful sensors and data analytics systems to track and investigate space objects. The Space Force’s AFRL is looking into public-private deals to use these commercial satellites to enhance its “space domain awareness”, allowing Space Force to monitor every object in outer space. (see video below)

• Another application using private satellites in low Earth orbit is for the deployment of sensors for the Air Force’s ‘Advanced Battle Management System’, allowing the military to integrate and analyze data from space rather than from the more vulnerable command-and-control airplanes flying over enemy territory.

• Next year, AFRL plans to launch an experimental ‘cubesat’ satellite equipped with a ‘Link 16’ encrypted radio frequency data link, widely used on U.S. military and NATO aircraft and ground vehicles to share information, as a communications network relay in space. With “one of these Link 16 transponders (attached to) each of these low Earth orbit satellites, you would basically have Link 16 capability everywhere all the time,” said Felt.

• Private companies deploying broadband satellite constellations in low Earth orbit would be candidates for partnerships where these commercial satellites would also host government communications. The Defense Innovation Unit of the AFRL and the Space Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center have been talking about setting up a ‘space commodities exchange’ where space services could be traded like commodities. “The space domain awareness data might be a great example of the kinds of things that the Space Force could purchase through a space commodities exchange,” said Felt.

 

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Space Force will be far smaller than the other military services but way more dependent on technology to do its job. While the Space Force will develop satellites and other technologies in-house, it also plans to follow the NASA playbook and team up with the private sector, said Col. Eric Felt, head of the Air Force Research Laboratory’s Space Vehicles Directorate.

       Colonel Eric Felt

Speaking at a SpaceNews online event June 4, Felt said NASA’s commercial crew program is “super exciting” and one that the Space Force can learn from.

The launch of a SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule on May 30 that took NASA astronauts to the International Space Station was the “culmination of perhaps the most successful private-public partnership of all times,” said Felt.

The Space Vehicles Directorate, located at Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico, is one of the organizations that Air Force Secretary Barbara Barrett agreed to transfer to the Space Force. Felt said his office will remain at its current location but approximately 700 people will be reassigned to the Space Force.

“The Space Force is going to be the most high tech of all of the services,” said Felt.

Public-private partnerships like NASA’s commercial crew deals with SpaceX and Boeing have saved NASA billions of dollars and serve as a “powerful model” that the Defense Department could adopt, said Felt.

1:02:30 video on military/corporate partnerships for Space Force (‘SpaceNewsInc’ YouTube)

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