Space and Missile Systems Center’s Integration Partners: Breaking down barriers to space

  • Published
  • By James Spellman, Jr.
  • Space and Missile Systems Center Public Affairs

Representatives from the Space and Missile Systems Center joined company officials Feb. 27 for a ribbon-cutting ceremony, officially opening a new small satellite integration facility in Torrance, California, operated by Parsons Corporation.

“The Space and Missile Systems Center is the U.S. Space Force's center of acquisition excellence for procuring and developing military space systems. SMC’s Launch Enterprise encompasses the National Security Space Launch, or NSSL program, and the Rocket Systems Launch Program, or RSLP,” explained Lt. Col. Richard Kniseley, Materiel Leader of the Mission Integration Branch within SMC Launch Enterprise, and guest speaker at the event. “Part of my role at SMC is to oversee the Mission Manifest Office, which we established in July 2018 as a ‘Front door to Launch’ to maximize opportunities for Department of Defense, Intelligence, and Civil payloads.”

According to Kniseley, the Mission Manifest Office designs mission sets to be integrated for NSSL, which quickly recognized that success depended on hiring a partner to assist in designing those mission sets as well as procuring the necessary hardware and integrating those payloads.  SMC awarded Parsons a five-year Launch Manifest Systems Integration (LMSI) contract in February 2019 to perform the task of allowing small satellites to hitch a ride as a secondary payload on national security or civil space missions.

“This facility epitomizes the technological disruption that will ensure the United States’ continued advancement, protection and exploration of the space domain, said Carey Smith, Parsons chief operating officer, during her welcoming remarks at the ceremony. “I would like to especially thank our U.S. Space Force customer, employees and partners for their vision and commitment in making today possible, and for their tireless role behind the scenes in driving our industry forward.”

According to Smith, as space becomes more accessible to commercial companies, allies and adversaries, the need for rapid, scalable prototyping and launch integration has never been more necessary.

 “Since the MMO and LMSI teams were formed, they successfully executed an integration on the Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF)-5 mission last August, where they demonstrated the deployment of a multi-manifest space vehicle prior to an anchor payload, an SMC first,” said Kniseley. 

SMC and Parsons are currently integrating a 12U multi-manifest satellite carrying multiple U.S. government payloads on the upcoming AEHF-6 mission, scheduled to launch in March aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida. This will be the second such rideshare mission for Parsons and SMC in less than a year and the first rideshare mission for the newly formed U.S. Space Force. 

According to Kniseley, the SMC and Parsons teams are also breaking down barriers to space by working with NASA’s Goddard Space Center to integrate an Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle Secondary Payload Adapter, or ESPA flight system on the Landsat-9 mission, scheduled for March 2021 from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California that will deploy up to 18 small satellites.