U.S. Space Force Inaugurates $12.8 Million SWORD Laboratory in New Mexico

The U.S. Space Force opened a new, state-of-the-art facility, under the command of the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), which looks like it’s going to become one of the most important centers for space warfighting innovation.
The SWORD ribbon-cutting ceremony took place at Kirtland AFB, N.M 1 photo
Photo: U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Jenna Bigham
Are future “space wars” a real possibility? It seems so, because AFRL’s newest research center will be dedicated to developing technologies that will help the U.S. deter various types of threats in space.

The ribbon-cutting ceremony conducted by AFRL’s Space Vehicles Directorate, to celebrate the opening of the Space Warfighting Operations Research and Development (SWORD) Laboratory, marked a moment we will probably remember for years to come, as it could be the beginning of ground-breaking military space technologies.

The $12.8 million SWORD is a 26,000 square foot facility that includes laboratory spaces and offices, planned to house a total of 65 scientists, engineers and support staff from the directorate’s Space Control Branch. The ribbon-cutting ceremony took place on May 20, at the Kirtland Air Force Base in New Mexico, and was hosted by Col. Eric Felt, the director of AFRL’s Space Vehicles Directorate, and Maj. Gen. Heather Pringle, AFRL commander.

Military satellites are one the most important elements that need to be considered, when talking about space security. According to AFRL officials, the SWORD laboratory will be involved in monitoring objects in space, especially as the number of satellites continues to grow, and will also develop technologies capable of providing better protection for satellite systems facing the threat of cyberattacks.

On the other hand, as autonomous systems are becoming increasingly important in all military areas, SWORD will also focus on developing space systems that can automatically detect and respond to threats. Not only are threats increasing, but the concept of “space frontier” is also evolving, from near Earth orbit to beyond the high Earth orbit.

With this new research facility, scientists will be able to conduct their own innovative projects, as well as collaborate with industry partners, for next-generation space defense technology.
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About the author: Otilia Drăgan
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Otilia believes that if it’s eco, green, or groundbreaking, people should know about it (especially if it's got wheels or wings). Working in online media for over five years, she's gained a deeper perspective on how people everywhere can inspire each other.
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