Construction begins on satellite facility at Kirtland AFB

By SCOTT TURNER | Albuquerque Journal | Published: July 1, 2020

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (Tribune News Service) — Construction has begun on a 15,000-square foot, nearly $6.9 million facility at Kirtland Air Force Base that U.S. Air Force and Space Force officials feel will give the nation an edge in small satellite technology.

The two-story building is expected to be completed in April 2021, with full occupancy the following month. Officials held a groundbreaking ceremony at the installation on Monday.

“The facility will help us maintain a technology edge over our peer adversaries by accelerating the pace and increasing the capacity of our innovation pipeline,” said Col. Eric Felt, the Air Force Research Laboratory’s Space Vehicles Directorate director. “Fundamentally, we will be able to build more small satellites faster through digital engineering, and leveraging the incredible commercial new space small satellite technologies.”

The facility will house about 35 full-time employees, with additional areas designed for collaboration with other organizations, according to Chris Paul, Small Satellite/Space Experiments Branch Portfolio lead.

“Much of the building will be utilized for analysis, concept development, design and operations of satellites at multiple classification levels,” Paul said.

Felt said the facility will provide the directorate with an amount of small satellite integration “and test capacity we need to evaluate, leverage, and shape the rapid commercial technology development occurring in U.S. and allied and partner nations.”

The facility is located near a 26,000-square-foot, $12.8 million Space Control Laboratory that will consolidate efforts now being conducted in six space technology facilities on the base. The building is expected to be completed later this year, and will include office and lab space for 65 civilian and military contractors.

The Space Vehicles Directorate is involved in the development of satellites and the tracking of satellites from other countries. The directorate is in the process of being transferred to the Space Force.

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