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The Air Force Research Laboratory Announces $1 Billion Contract for Space-Related Research

This year will most likely be remembered, among other things, as a pioneering year for space tourism. Add to this the fast development of cis-lunar economy, and the incredible rate of satellite launches, and you’ll get a glimpse of the space industry’s impressive growth. It’s not surprising, in this case, that the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) has just awarded a huge contract for space-related research.
AFRL has awarded a $1 billion contract to Space Dynamics Laboratory 6 photos
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A deeper collaboration between the government and university research is the goal of a new contract awarded by AFRL to Utah State University Space Dynamics Laboratory, worth a whopping $1 billion. This is a culmination of the long-term partnership between the two institutions, with the Space Dynamics Lab being designated a University Affiliated Research Center (UARC).

Although it sounds like huge spending, Col. Eric Felt, director of the AFRL Space Vehicles Directorate, says that this new contract will allow AFRL to bring most of its space-related projects in one place, instead of awarding several smaller individual contracts, which wouldn’t be cost- and time-effective. The main objectives of the Space Dynamics Laboratory will be related to technology development and mission support.

Future research projects developed under this contract will focus on a multitude of areas, including nuclear-related science, advanced satellite navigation, quantum and photonic sensors, plus information-related capabilities. These projects will be overseen by the Space Vehicles Directorate, acting as a center of excellence for space within AFRL.

Earlier this year, the same Directorate inaugurated the Space Warfighting Operations Research and Development (SWORD) Laboratory, a 26,000 square feet (2,415 square meters) facility that integrates several laboratory spaces and offices. SWORD’s mission is to develop technologies specifically related to the deterrence of various types of threats in space. This is because space is not just a source of knowledge, but also an area with high-security threats, especially as the space industry becomes increasingly important.

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