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YIR: Operationally Responsive Space Office
by Dr. Peter Wegner, Director

2008: Since May 1 when I became the Director of the Operationally Responsive Space Office, a DoD level office, the ORS has delivered, on several occasions, coming closer to its main objective of “Assured Space Power Focused on Timely Satisfaction of Joint Force Commanders’ (JFC) Needs.” Specifically, ORS has two main goals: 1) to satisfy the needs of the JFC, and 2) to develop the enablers to allow for rapid development, deployment and operation of space assets to support Joint Force Commanders’ needs. The ORS Office has proposed concepts for three JFC needs to date that involve; commercially hosted payloads for UHF Satcom; utilization of existing assets for Space Situational Awareness; and rapid development of a new system for Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance. Each of these solutions will bring us closer to the goal of delivering a space capability to the warfighter in six days.

Over the past 12 months, some of the more notable advances we showed included...
  • New rapid requirements process to validate and prepare solution in 30-60 days
  • Rapid (4 hr.) spacecraft assembly via Plug-and-Play using a modular open systems architecture in cooperation with the Air Force Research Laboratory
  • Six-day integration of the Trailblazer spacecraft onto the Falcon 3 rocket
  • Direct warfighter use of international assets (the RADARSAT 2 Canadian Satellite
  • Rapid acquisition for ORS-Sat-1 (contract in 17 days, and proposed launch of 24 months — our first example of end-to-end quick response by the ORS Office)

Risk is always the number one issue regarding spacecraft manufacture and launch — how much to accept and how much to mitigate — and to balance schedule, risk, and cost. ORS is taking a new approach to risk and mission assurance to rapidly deploy capabilities that are “good enough” to satisfy warfighter needs across the entire spectrum of operations, from peacetime through conflict,

We are actively engaged with those in the Space Community — Defense, Intel, Civil, Industry, Academia, and International — to define and promulgate spacecraft modular open standards. We are also standing-up what we call “Chileworks” — Recon wing capability for space. Responsive Platforms, Payloads, Busses, with rapid development, deployment, demonstration, and transition to theater.

2009: Our next big event is the launch of Tacsat-3 at the end of January, a hyperspectral imager managed by the Air Force Research Laboratory. We also awarded several contracts through a Broad Agency Announcements that will be evaluated for follow-on efforts. As JFC needs are presented to the ORS office, new opportunities for support will be announced for industry participation. We also look forward to continued industry support in the Open Systems Standards Consortium.

About the author
Dr. Peter M. Wegner is the Director of the Operationally Responsive Space Office, Kirtland AFB, NM. In this role, Dr. Wegner oversees the development, demonstration, and fielding of space capabilities focused on timely satisfaction of Joint Force Commanders’ needs. This joint-office is manned with personnel from across the Department of Defense and Intelligence Community. The ORS Office Director reports directly to the DoD Executive Agent for Space. Prior to this position, Dr. Wegner served as the Technical Advisor to Air Force Space Command, Directorate of Requirements. In this position, Dr. Wegner helped guide development of Air Force future space concepts based on science discovery and technology trends. Dr. Wegner was responsible for ensuring the alignment of the Air Force’s space science and technology portfolio with the Air Force’s future capability requirements. Dr. Wegner also served as a Senior Aerospace Engineer with the Air Force Research Laboratory, Space Vehicles Directorate. He developed AFRL’s Operationally Responsive Space Program; overseeing the development of technologies for responsive spacecraft and launch vehicles. Dr. Wegner also led the DoD TacSat Joint Experiments IPT. Dr. Wegner also served as the Branch Chief for AFRL’s Spacecraft Component Technology Branch. Dr. Wegner was awarded the Air Force Harold Brown Award in 2003 for his work in developing spacecraft technologies and transitioning them into operations; one example is the EELV Secondary Payload Adapter (ESPA).

About the agency
Operationally responsive space is a concept of meeting new requirements within months and getting new capabilities into the hands of those who need them. Today's battlefields routinely show a need for enhanced space operations to help the warfighter. Operationally responsive space requires current technologies to be quickly developed and executed from conception to operation in order to fulfill the needs of the warfighter. ORS Office programs will be dictated by those in warfighting positions, and ORS personnel will have the task of anticipating the needs of those warfighters to prepare capabilities or be able to create necessary capabilities within a short period of time. The technology and programs employed at the ORS Office will ensure that U.S. warfighters will have the capabilities they need when they need them most.