SMC stands up new launch systems directorate

  • Published
  • By Alicia Garges
  • Space and Missile Systems Center Public Affairs
Space and Missile Systems Center leaders officially stood up its newest organization, the Launch Systems Enterprise Directorate (SMC/LE), at a ceremony here Oct. 14.

Under the leadership of Dr. Claire Leon, the new directorate brings together the Launch Systems Directorate and the Rocket Systems Launch Program, which formerly fell under SMC's Advance Systems and Development Directorate at Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico.

"Until today, the Air Force has procured and executed space launch capabilities through two separate organizations within SMC-RSLP and SMC/LR. This created the potential for ambiguity among our stakeholders and a disconnect in our acquisition strategy," said Lt. Gen. Samuel Greaves, the Air Force program executive officer for space and the SMC commander. "Today, we unify Air Force space launch capabilities under one directorate to synchronize our acquisition activities.

"Space launch is not a service for which one must come up with a value proposition, but rather it is a must-have utility in our national policy of assured access to space," Greaves continued. "As the space environment continues to evolve with the addition of EELV (Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle) new entrants, we must build upon that foundation to drive and provide innovative, resilient, and affordable launch solutions for the Air Force and the nation."

The Launch Systems Directorate's mission was to acquire, operate and sustain affordable expendable launch and range capability primarily through the Delta II and the EELV program. Until the recent certification of the SpaceX Falcon 9, the EELV program consisted of United Launch Alliance's Delta IV and Atlas V rockets. The SMC-RSLP mission was to execute several small to medium launches, deliver realistic targets for Missile Defense Agency's test program, and provide oversight of available “Peacekeeper” intercontinental ballistic missile motors. The SMC/LE will bring the best of these two worlds together.

The new directorate's mission is to be the "Guardian of assured access: Launching when and where the nation needs it." SMC/LE's vision statement is to be the most respected and innovative spacelift team, delivering mission success while enabling a robust U.S. launch industry.

"This realignment will not only advance our capability development, but will feed into the next generation of SMC's space systems and into architectural baselines for decades to come," Greaves said.

At the ceremony, the general tasked Leon to remain laser-focused in SMC's goal to provide the nation with persistent global access to space.

"This is an exciting and dynamic time in the launch industry with robust design efforts and reintroducing competition for launch," Leon said.

Her priorities for the new directorate are to continue our focus on mission success, provide continuing assured access to space, transition from the use of RD-180 engines and reintroduce new launch competition.