“For the first time in our history, space has become an equal partner to air-breathers.”
James G. Roche, Secretary of the AF, 9 Apr 2003
“Space is an indispensable partner in the American way of waging war.”
General Lance Lord, 12 Feb 04
In March, 2006, The Department of Military Strategic Studies in collaboration with Air Force Space Command opened a state of the art Space Operations Education Laboratory for USAFA cadets to experience space operations from a multi-disciplinary perspective.
The Mission: To provide a first-class, state of the art facility to integrate space wargaming and simulation, to develop true space professionals who conceptualize space capabilities and missions and have critical hands-on experiences that simulate space applications.
The Vision:To complement the cadet space educational experience through the integration of space wargaming and simulation.
The SOEL simulates active duty missions using unclassified data processing that allows students maximum interaction.
The SOEL employs Analytical Graphics, Incorporated’s (AGI) Satellite Tool Kit (STK) software. STK is the leading commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) analysis software for land, sea, air, and space. Through its capability to present results in both graphical and text formats, STK makes it easy for our cadets to analyze and determine optimal solutions for complex national security and space scenarios.
STK uses multiple 2-D and 3-D displays to help cadets visualize space-related objects such as launch vehicles, missiles, and aircraft. STK's core capabilities include orbit/trajectory ephemeris generation, acquisition times, and sensor coverage analysis for any of the objects modeled in the STK environment.
The state of the art SOEL is being used in core and majors courses in Military Strategic Studies and other departments.
The SOEL provides countless possibilities for the future. A few ideas currently being considered include:
- Networking the SOEL with DFMI’s existing Warfare Simulation Lab and Air Warfare Lab to provide cadets with a simultaneous view of the strategic, operational, and tactical aspects of war.
- Collaborating with other departments at the Academy to demonstrate a satellite’s life cycle: from requirements, to feasibility studies, to environmental analysis, to spacecraft design resulting in an operational on-orbit satellite.
- Continually adding new software capabilities and programs to simulate those used in the operational Air Force to enhance and expand learning experiences for cadets to solve new challenges and explore ill-defined questions.