Space and Missile Systems Center hosts British Defense and Space delegation

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

Sir Stephen Lovegrove, the United Kingdom’s Permanent Secretary to the Ministry of Defense and his delegation, toured the Space and Missile Systems Center Feb. 21 during a fact-gathering visit on future partnerships with SMC.

As the Permanent Secretary, Sir Stephen is the British government’s principal civilian advisor on defense, has primary responsibility for policy, finance and planning, and is the departmental accounting officer. He reports to the UK’s Head of the Civil Service and is a member of the Defense Council, and the Defense Board. He also co-chairs, with the UK’s Chief of the Defense Staff, the Defense Strategy Group.

Accompanying Sir Stephen during the visit were Clare Cameron, Director Defense Innovation and Director Defense & Security Industrial Strategy Review, Lois Nicholson, British Defense Staff-US Counselor for Defense Acquisition and Technology with the UK’s Ministry of Defense at the British Embassy in Washington, D.C., Nicholas Hooper, Head of Science and Innovation at the British Consulate in Los Angeles, Beth Vaccarezza, Head of Defense, Space and Security - USA, Department for International Trade, and Royal Air Force Wing Commander Ian Pamplin, UK liaison officer to SMC.

The delegation met with Brig. Gen. Donna Shipton, SMC vice commander and Program Executive Officer for SMC’s Space Enterprise Corps, Ms. Joy White, SMC executive director and Atlas Corps director, Ms. Deanna Ryals, SMC chief partnership officer (CPO), Col. Stephen Purdy, Special Programs director, Dr. Stephen Pluntze, executive director to the CPO  and Wayne Sullens, CPO support from The Aerospace Corporation. The group received briefings on SMC’s mission, the Chief Partnership Office, and SMC’s innovation initiatives and emerging partnership opportunities, which are, “sort of like a volcano rumbling,” in the words of Sir Stephen. “What would you like to see us do more of?” he asked.

“It was a very positive engagement. The delegation seemed keenly interested in SMC’s recent transformation, our objectives of Enterprise, Partnership, Innovation, Culture and Speed as well as the many innovation and partnership opportunities we’ve embarked upon.  Sir Stephen said he thought it was remarkable we were able to achieve such a significant re-architecture and it was clear to them why we did it. The shift from a vertical to a horizontal structure and establishment of a portfolio architect resonated with them,” said White. “From their perspective, it’s moving from an Industrial Age organizational model to an agile, data-driven structure. They indicated the desire to be on a similar path.”

White pointed out the UK delegation expressed concerns about sharing data due to classification levels and access limitations, however, “we all agree that we need to resolve those issues to fully leverage our partnership opportunities,” said White.

Sir Stephen and his delegation then traveled to SMC’s Software Factory. Escorted by Col. Jennifer Krolikowski, Senior Material Leader for SMC’s Space Command and Control program office, the group received an overview and demonstrations on Space C2 and agile software development.  Highlighted was their operational platform that can host coalition-releasable mission workflows and applications for utilization by coalition exchange officers at the Combined Space Operations Center, or CSpOC at Vandenberg Air Force Base.

This “releasable” platform was developed by the Kobayashi Maru Platform team in collaboration with Pivotal/VMware and the Naval Information and Warfare Center. The cloud-native platform leverages commercial best practices, cutting-edge technologies, and requisite security procedures to provide a resilient operational backbone to host coalition-focused Space C2 capabilities.

The visit wrapped up in a meeting with Van Espahbodi, co-founder and managing partner of Starburst Accelerator, which is championing today’s aerospace renaissance, uniting early-stage technology innovators with private investment to modernize infrastructure in mobility, communications and intelligence. 

“We had a vibrant discussion on leveraging industry innovation. They had just discussed rapid acquisitions on large programs with a larger, traditional defense contractor. We talked about innovation at both large and small contractors and the significant innovation within the dynamic Silicon Valley space industry scene--and we discussed how the US leveraged our 2019 Space Pitch Day in San Francisco,” said Purdy. “There are exciting times ahead in government, civil and commercial space sectors.”