WASHINGTON — The Air Force Research Laboratory has awarded Utah State University a $1 billion contract to support space-related research and technology development at its Space Dynamics Laboratory.

Under the contract, the Space Dynamics Laboratory will continue to provide an outside source for essential space engineering and capability development as a University Affiliated Research Center, or UARC.

“This contract solidifies the long-term strategic partnership between AFRL and USU/SDL. The partnership will accelerate critical space science and technology projects, especially when we need to quickly respond to urgent and unexpected needs,” said Col. Eric Felt, director of the AFRL Space Vehicles Directorate, in a statement. “It will allow us to focus on proactively out-innovating our peer competitors to ensure the Space Force continues to have the technology required to deter conflict and assure our nation’s critical space capabilities are available whenever and wherever needed

“The overarching objective is to conduct scientific investigations and technology, research and development in the UARC’s core competency areas without the bureaucracy and delay of awarding multiple smaller individual contracts,” Felt added.

The Space Dynamics Laboratory has a long history of government collaboration. It was one of the original six UARCs designated by the Department of Defense in 1996, but it traces its history much farther back, to when its predecessor organizations conducted space experiments with German V-2 rockets after World War II. The laboratory has worked closely with several government organizations, including NASA, the Missile Defense Agency, and the Naval Research Laboratory.

The AFRL partnership covers a large swath of research areas, including:

  • Space-related Sensor Systems
  • Space-cyberspace and Information Related Capabilities
  • Nuclear-Related Science & Technology Deterrence Operations
  • Advanced Satellite Navigation and Global Positioning Systems (GPS) Technology
  • Precision Quantum and Photonic Sensors
  • Space Environment Exploitation and Mitigation
  • Small Satellite Portfolio
  • Distributed RF Sensing

“This contract represents a vital contribution to assuring that the United States remains on the leading edge of research and development for space-based technologies. The Space Dynamics Laboratory is honored to be a trusted partner of Air Force Research Laboratory and the U.S. Space Force to develop technologies for new missions and maintain core capabilities for national defense,” said SDL President Jed Hancock.

Nathan Strout covers space, unmanned and intelligence systems for C4ISRNET.

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