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U.S. space institute goes global, hosts first international students

by Capt. Catie Hague
Air Force Space Command Public Affairs

7/30/2007 - PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. (AFPN) -- Four Australian airmen recently traveled more than 10,000 miles to expand their knowledge of U.S. space operations and the constantly changing global arena of space.

Air Force Space Command invited these international students to attend the National Security Space Institute's two-week Space Fundamentals Course in Colorado Springs, Colo., strengthening ties between this nation's international partners, and in particular between the two nations' space professional cadre.

"The Australian attendance in our Space Fundamentals Course and in the upcoming executive-level Space Operations Course this August adds another dimension to the education provided all those who attend our institute," said Col. David Jones, NSSI commandant. "The unique perspectives of our allies enable the entire class to look at systems, capabilities and challenges in a different light."

Royal Australian Air Force Flight Lieutenants Dave Goodwin and Wayne Armstrong, radar operators, rated Space Fundamentals a "nine" on a scale of one to 10, stating that the course was extremely informative on how the United States operates in space, especially in regards to satellite communications.

"We each got something different out of the course," said RAAF Squadron Leader Roger Halford. "We all have different backgrounds; I am a legal officer, Goodwin and Armstrong are radar operators and (Flight Lieutenant Stephanie) Collet is in intelligence."

The team members explained that Australia is in its infancy when it comes to space.

"We have no satellites on orbit; we lease commercial satellites to transfer all forms of data from point A to point B," said Squadron Leader Halford.

To put it in perspective, the entire RAAF is made up of about 15,000 airmen, while Air Force Space Command alone is made up of about 39,000 space professionals.

"We are here on a three-month tour because our country wants to get more involved in space," Squadron Leader Halford said. "We came to learn how the U.S. Air Force utilizes this unique environment."

NSSI provided the basics: an essential introduction, a solid background.

"We are a globally engaged force," said Maj. Gen. Erika Steuterman, NSSI chancellor. "Australian participation highlights the fact that we train as we fight, in a coalition environment. It is just one example of Air Force Space Command's commitment to space professional development, providing the best trained space professionals in the world to support the warfighter."

Colonel Jones echoed the general's comments, stating that international participation in NSSI courses only enhances the quality of learning for all those involved.

"The Australians are consistently at our side as an important ally," he said. "They are making great strides in growing their own space capabilities."

The Aussies are visiting various AFSPC units into September, at which point they will return to Australia and further their air force's space professional development program.

NSSI's international reach continues with one RAAF and two Royal Air Force officers scheduled to attend the executive-level course Aug. 2 in Colorado Springs.

NSSI is the Department of Defense's center of excellence for space education throughout the National Security Space community. Its staff researches, develops and provides world-class instruction of space system technologies, capabilities, operational concepts, acquisitions and tactics in support of Joint service strategies to develop certified space professionals. 

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