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Guardian Challenge 2010 Spotlights SDTW: Air Force Space Systems Come from Wing

From left to right: Ms. Katherine Shaw, contrating specialist, Mr. David Meyer, acquisition program manager, Maj. John Merman, developmental engineer, and Capt. Ryan Harris, financial manager, represented the Space Development and Test Wing at Guardian Challenge 2010 April 28. The winning acquisition team from Space and Missile Systems Center will be announced at the Air Force Space Command's award banquet May 21 in Colorado Springs, Colo. (Courtesy photo)

From left to right: Ms. Katherine Shaw, contracting specialist, Mr. David Meyer, acquisition program manager, Maj. John Merman, developmental engineer, and Capt. Ryan Harris, financial manager, represented the Space Development and Test Wing at Guardian Challenge 2010 April 28. The winning acquisition team from the Space and Missile Systems Center will be announced at the Air Force Space Command's award banquet May 21 in Colorado Springs, Colo. (Courtesy photo)

Space Development and Test Wing Shield

Space Development and Test Wing Shield

Los Angeles Air Force Base, Calif. -- The beginning of many of the Air Force's advanced space capabilities and concepts originates with an organization about 800 miles from Los Angeles Air Force Base. Located in the culture-rich desert of the Southwest, the Space Development and Test Wing, at Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico, serves as a center of excellence in delivering new, small and responsive space capabilities on behalf of the Space and Missile Systems Center.

The mission of the Wing is to "develop, test and evaluate Air Force space systems, execute advanced space development and demonstration projects, and rapidly transition capabilities to the warfighter," said Col. Michael Moran, SDTW commander.

To prove their wing is the best of SMC and deserving to retain the Brig. Gen. William G. King Jr. Trophy it won at the bi-annual Guardian Challenge two years ago, an SDTW acquisition team represented the Wing at this year's competition April 28 across SMC. Four "Space Raiders," Maj. John Mehrman, Capt. Ryan Harris, Mr. David Meyer and Ms. K. Danielle Shaw, took part in the event. The result will be announced May 21 in Colorado Springs, Colo.

These Space Raiders represented the full breadth of expertise across SDTW including members from the Space Test Group, the Space Development Group, Program Control and Contracting Support. The experience and background of the team ranges from satellite operations to launch support to spacecraft development and program management.

Within the Space Test Group, the Space Test Squadron operates the Air Forces only 24/7 research and development satellite operations center. Also of note with the Space Test Group is the Launch Test Squadron which provides scalable launch services averaging more than eight launches a year and has maintained a 98% mission success rate over 678 launches during the lifetime of the program.

The Space Development Group consists of the Spacecraft Development Squadron, Responsive Space Squadron, Responsive Satellite Command and Control Division and Human Spaceflight Payloads Division. Among its many taskings, the Development Group manages the DoD Space Test Program, integrates, launches and operates all DOD payloads on the Space Shuttle and International Space Station, and provides spaceflight opportunities for many of the future space warfighting systems. The group is a center for developing the next generation of responsive space assets.

With such a significant mission, SDTW has a lot riding on Guardian Challenge 2010, especially when the wing won the competition with the perfect score in 2008. "Our score was posted last," recounted Mr. Meyer, an acquisition program manager and also a member of the 2008 SDTW team. "The Military Satellite Communications Wing had already posted a score of 580 points out of a possible 600, so we thought they had won. When our score of 600 popped up, we couldn't believe it. It was great!"

"Our wing has a short but illustrious history in GC competition; I hope we continue following that path," said Captain Harris, a financial manager. "I'm excited to represent SDTW this year."

This time around, both pride and pressure were high, but this team's goal remained the same. "We want to bring the King Trophy back to Kirtland," said Major Mehrman, the team leader and SDTW's Field Grade Officer of the Year.

Which team will win the competition is anybody's guess but these Space Raiders were determined to keep the King trophy in the New Mexico desert for another two years.