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Space Test Program (U)

Overview (U):

(U) The Space Test Program (STP) is a part the Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center, Space and Missile Test and Evaluation Directorate located at Kirtland AFB in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The DoD Space Test Program was created in May 1965 as a multi-user space program whose role is to be the primary provider of spaceflight for the entire Department of Defense space research community (this role was revalidated in a Nov 1995 memo from the Secretary of Defense). The Air Force is the executive agent for this DoD program. The primary objective of STP is to fly the maximum number of DoD space research experiments possible consistent with priority, opportunity and available funding. From the first launch in Jun 1967 to Jun 1997 over 400 experiments have been flown on over 120 missions using dedicated free-flyers, the space shuttle or piggyback payload opportunities.

Description (U):

(U) The STP uses a wide variety of platforms to host space research and development experiments including Small Class Spacecraft, Medium Class Spacecraft, the Space Shuttle, and Piggybacks on other spacecraft.

(U) Small class spacecraft range from 500 to 1000 lbs and have been launched to a wide array of altitudes and inclinations. The original common small spacecraft bus was the Space Test Experiments Platform (STEP); which has been used to host a wide variety of experiments. Medium class spacecraft (3000 to 6000 lbs) host multiple experimental payloads and have been launched to a wide array of altitudes and inclinations. The next medium class spacecraft mission is ARGOS, a 6000 lb which will carry nine experiment payloads weighing over 3000 lbs. Space Shuttle flights offer short duration mid-deck and cargo bay missions where experimental payloads use the Orbiter as a spacecraft bus. The Shuttle can also deploy spacecraft and experiments in orbit, then retrieve them up to years later (e.g. Long Duration Exposure Facility). SMC/TE has flown payloads on over 85 Shuttle missions. Shuttle missions also offer the unique capability of manned assistance and return from orbit. In addition to the other modes of spaceflight, STP also arranges flights of opportunity ("piggyback" missions) on domestic and foreign spacecraft. A typical piggyback mission uses the host spacecraft for various combinations of bus functions (e.g. power supply, telemetry, pointing, and thermal control).

(U) The Space Test Program manages the DoD SERB Process, described below:

-- (U) DOD experiments normally originate in the Services (Army, Air Force, Navy, NASA) laboratories or in research institutions (colleges, universities, think tanks, etc) but are in no way limited to these institutions. Every experiment must be sponsored by a DoD agency.

-- (U) Each experiment's sponsoring agency submits a DD Form 1721 through organizational channels to SAF/AQS. This form is first used by the DoD Space Experiments Review Board (SERB) to evaluate the experiments and prioritize them.

-- (U) The DoD SERB meets May of each year. The panel consists of representatives from the Air Force, Navy, Army, and other DoD agencies. Each experiment's sponsoring agency presents a briefing to the SERB panel and then the experiments are ranked based on the panel's assessment of its DOD relevance. In addition, the panel considers other factors including experiment quality and service priorities. The final result of the SERB is a prioritized list of experiments.

-- (U) The identification of spaceflight opportunities begins with the development of an STP mission model for upcoming years. This model takes into account spacecraft and booster budget constraints and the number and type of prioritized experiments. Opportunities to fly as secondary payload on non-STP spacecraft are also included in the overall mission model.

-- (U) Once a spaceflight opportunity has been identified, all STP experiments are reviewed to determine which are compatible with the opportunity. Experiment payload questionaires are sent to each experiment compatible with the mission. The objective of the questionaire is to provide more detailed technical information than was provided by the DD form 1721. The information in the responses to these questionaires, together with the STP priority list and the spaceflight opportunities are then studied to determine which experiments are best included in the mission.

-- (U) Getting the mission approved by SAF/AQS and assigned a spaceflight is only the first step toward spaceflight. The remainder of the process depends on the complexity of the mission. Secondary missions, such as small payloads on a host vehicle and Get-Away-Specials (GAS) on the Shuttle usually only involve a memorandum of agreement and the transfer of funds from STP to the program office. Primary missions require that STP procure a spacecraft and booster or launch service. In these cases, STP must go through the DoD procurement process, which includes receiving approval for the acquisition strategy plan and conducting source selection activities through contract award. Experimenters and their sponsors are involved in two ways: Laying the groundwork for mission approval (i.e. for the expenditure of STP funding for the mission) and through briefings and meetings in support of source selection and contract award.

-- (U) Once an experiment has either a host vehicle or a spacecraft and booster, detailed integration design and analyses are done by both the experimenter and the integration contractor. The result of this effort is an interface control document that defines the technical interface requirements which the experimenter must meet to be compatible with its spacecraft. Changes to the experiment design/requirements after this point require contractual changes and will increase the cost of the mission.

-- (U) Once the experiment is integrated to a spacecraft, it is launched and on-orbit operations begin. Experiment data is collected, formatted and transmitted to the experimenter. One year of on-orbit operations is provided by STP.

User Impact (U):

(U) STP provides spaceflight for payloads identified by the DoD Space Experiments Review Board (SERB). STP is a cost effective way to evaluate early operational capabilities, demonstrate new space systems and technologies and reduce risk by flight testing prototype systems and components.

Programmatics (U):

(U) (** No IOC **).

Images (U):

(U) None.

Related Initiatives (U):
AF Develop Test Center (AFDTC)Air Force Development Test Center (AFDTC)
AF Flight Test Center (AFFTC)Air Force Flight Test Center (AFFTC)
Rocket System Launch ProgramRocket System Launch Program
This Table Is Unclassified.

Related Requirements (U):None.

Related Categories (U):
Test Programs and FacilitiesTest Programs and Facilities
This Table Is Unclassified.

Road Map Placements (U):

This Table Is Unclassified.

Requirements, Funding and Additional Hotlinks (U):

Test and Evaluation Funding
RDT&E Budget Item Project 2617
This Table Is Unclassified.

Lead Office (U):

(U) Air Force.

(U) DoD: USD (A&T) and OASD(C3I), Pentagon, Washington, DC
(U) Service Staff: SAF/AQS, Pentagon, Washington, DC
(U) Major Command: AFMC/SMC, Los Angeles AFB, CA
(U) Program Management: SMC/TE, Kirtland AFB NM

Point of Contact (U):

(U) Maj Mike LaPointe, NSSA, Open Phone: (703) 325-6422, DSN 221-6422.
(U) National Security Space Road Map Team, NSSA, Open Phone: (703)808-6040, DSN 898-6040.

Date Of Information (U):

(U) 21 November 1997

(U) Road Map Production Date: 12 July 1999

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