Trump’s Space Force Aims for Albuquerque

April 3rd, 2019 - by Global Network & The Albuquerque Journal

Big Push to Turn Albuquerque into Center for the Mother of All Wars

Global Network / Special to Environmentalists Against War

(April 1, 2019) — The Albuquerque Journal just ran two big articles (below) about a plan to make Albuquerque the national center for space war research as well as an operational control center for warfare using space as a high ground advantage.  If space war comes about humanity will forever be trapped on an uninhabitable planet.  No one can win this kind of a war

U.S. imperial war planners once dreamed they could win a nuclear war.  Then they realized that was impossible because a successful counter attack would bring about a mutually assured destruction.  That has changed now.  New weapons technologies coming out of the nation’s military-industrial complex’s web of high-tech contractors especially those in New Mexico at Kirtland AFB, the missile test ranges, the nuclear labs and the state universities has brought back the insane dream of a winnable global war. And they say Albuquerque should be the center of this horrid scheme since New Mexico has been fundamental to bringing all these technologies about.  

The key cheerleaders of this plan are our politicians, especially Sen. Heinrich and Sen. Udall who like the promoters of the Nazi gas ovens misdirect the public’s attention by saying this war planning will help the economy create jobs.  In reality, they are selling the idea that nuclear surgical first strikes will now succeed because the counter-attacks will be stopped by space based laser type weapons and interceptor missiles fired from the surface. The Journal is shamefully working to build public support for this war-of-wars by presenting it as if we were a sci-fi movie produced here in NM. 

All this puts Albuquerque at the center of a national debate about the future of life on our planet, as if the environmental crisis was not enough!  Will we allow the war profiteers and the political class to push us over the brink toward an end-game war with these technologies or will we find a way to live with other people on the planet?

For more information on the movement to stop this, see the Global Network.

Making Science-fiction Real

Kevin Robinson-Avila / Albuquerque Journal 

Kirkland AFB and Sandia National Labs Beam Weapons Research Site.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (March 25, 2019) — New Mexico is emerging as a national leader in joint government-industry efforts to modernize the country’s space-based defense systems and build 21st century laser and microwave weapons, and that is creating opportunities for local business.

That includes companies of all sizes, from global players like Raytheon and Northrop Grumman to small homegrown firms and even startups with innovative technologies.

Kirtland Air Force Base and White Sands Missile Range are playing critical roles in the modernization efforts, thanks to their technical talent and established infrastructure. That’s boosted through aggressive efforts by Democratic senators Martin Heinrich and Tom Udall to promote New Mexico as a high-tech hub for development of space systems and laser and microwave technology, known as “directed energy.” That’s helped raise New Mexico’s profile, generating more defense spending here..

“We’re now widely recognized as a national center of excellence,” Heinrich told the Journal. “It’s positioning us in the coming decades to significantly grow the job base in New Mexico.”

As defense programs grow, more private sector investment is flowing into the state.

“There’s a laundry list of employers setting up shop in Albuquerque, from small, homegrown companies to big guys like Boeing, Raytheon and General Atomics,” Heinrich said. “They all want to be here. They see New Mexico as the place to be now.”

The boom in activity reflects changing national defense strategies, with development of space systems and directed energy among the Pentagon’s top priorities.

On the space front, that means upgrading government satellite systems to manage modern day challenges and make space-based communications, monitoring, and control systems far more efficient and robust.

New Mexico already excels in that area, thanks largely to Air Force space agencies at Kirtland and the local industry expertise that’s built up alongside it.

On the directed energy front, the military is working to move laser and microwave weapons out of the lab and into the field, with a lot more money going into prototypes for testing, evaluation and training of war fighters. Most of that work is centered in New Mexico because those weapons were largely developed here through the Air Force Research Laboratory’s Directed Energy Directorate, creating a rich pool of talent and technical expertise.

White Sands, meanwhile, is emerging as the nation’s key test and evaluation site for those weapons.

Heinrich and Udall have helped win a lot more government funding and industry contracts for all those programs. The fiscal year 2019 National Defense Authorization Act provided money to upgrade military infrastructure and capabilities here and advance technology modernization programs. That includes:

• $371 million for the Air Force’s Space Rapid Capabilities Office at Kirtland, nearly a threefold increase from FY 2018;

• $15 million to upgrade White Sands’ laser and microwave testing infrastructure; and

• $484 million for directed energy activities nationally, most of it for Air Force efforts, particularly in New Mexico, to advance laser and microwave systems.

New Mexico’s entire congressional delegation is also lobbying the Defense Department to co-locate the headquarters of a newly-planned Space Development Agency here.

Attracting jobs

More defense spending means more military and civilian jobs at Kirtland, and more contracts for local companies.

Just since February, the government announced two new awards for homegrown Albuquerque firms. Tau Technologies won an $8.9 million contract for modeling, simulation and assessment work on laser systems, and LoadPath LLC won $14.9 million to assist in research and development of advanced components and systems for satellites.

Such homegrown firms are growing fast. Verus Research, for example, grew from 21 employees and $2.7 million in revenue in 2014 to 74 employees and $12 million in revenue last year. The company works on lasers, high-power microwaves and nuclear engineering.

“New task orders are coming in now, and there’s more on the way,” said Verus Research Managing Director Hank Andrews. “Customer appetite is great.”

Big companies are also staffing up to manage new and ongoing space and directed energy-related contracts.

In January, Northrop Grumman said it would open a new Albuquerque-area facility and expand its workforce, potentially doubling its employees to 300 over the next three years.

Boeing, which manages all of its directed energy work in Albuquerque, has developed a ground-based compact laser weapon system for defense against drones. It sold its first ones last year to the Marine Corps for testing and training.

The company, which employs about 200 throughout New Mexico, hired 20 people last year and will hire 20 more this year.

“We’re in a growth period now to develop and grow laser technology for war fighters,” said Ron Dauk, Laser and Electro-Optical systems program manager.

Raytheon as well has ramped up at the Sandia Science and Technology Park to better manage its microwave-related work, nearly doubling its facility there to 175,000-square-feet. The site employs 150 people and includes the largest single concentration of microwave-related scientists and engineers among all companies nationwide, said Don Sullivan, directed energy chief technologist for Raytheon in Albuquerque.

“We’re recruiting more scientists and engineers now, and given our backlog of work, that will continue into the future,” Sullivan said.

Raytheon has built a ground-based microwave defense system to down swarms of incoming drones simultaneously, which it tested at White Sands last fall. If the military deploys the system, most high-tech manufacturing and development will remain in Albuquerque with final assembly elsewhere. That means more jobs at Raytheon and at local high-tech firms that supply components and services to the company, Sullivan said.

“Discussions are ongoing about using our system,” Sullivan said. “There’s potential to actually start producing units in the next two to three years.”

Opportunities are also emerging for startup companies with innovative ideas to help solve technical problems. That’s boosted by a new Air Force emphasis on rapid development, prototyping and acquisition of technologies to speed the deployment of emerging defense systems, said Matt Fetrow, director of the Air Force Research Laboratory’s Technology Engagement Office.

To facilitate those efforts in New Mexico, the AFRL contracted the ABQid business accelerator last year to help it build collaborative relations with private companies. That led to a novel Hyperspace Challenge last fall that paired 10 companies with Air Force specialists in a week-long competition in Albuquerque where participating firms presented data analytics technology that could help the military to rapidly translate reams of satellite data into useful information.

ABQid will help organize another challenge this year looking at a different technology problem.

“We are front and center in defense modernization activities, and it’s creating lots of potential opportunities for businesses here,” Fetrow said. “That includes established companies and startups that can help the Air Force rapidly field new capabilities.”

Space and Directed Energy Agencies at Kirtland
• Space Rapid Capabilities Office
• Space and Missiles Center’s Advanced Systems and Development Directorate
• Air Force Research Laboratory’s Space Vehicles Directorate
• AFRL’s Directed Energy Directorate
•Combined $900 million in annual funding in fiscal year 2019
•More than 1,600 civilian and military employees

FY 2016 Economic Impact
•AFRL: $659 million, 4,166 direct and indirect jobs
•Kirtland Air Force Base overall: $6.7 billion
•22,000 direct jobs, including Sandia National Laboratories
•53,000 total jobs supported

University of New Mexico, AFRL Team on Manufacturing Center

Kevin Robinson-Avila / Albuquerque Journal

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (March 25, 2019) — As the military scrambles to modernize satellite defense systems and build new laser and microwave technology, it’s turning to advanced robotics manufacturing to lower costs and speed design and production through artificial intelligence and machine learning.

To develop those 21st Century engineering techniques, the Air Force Research Laboratory and the University of New Mexico have established a state-of-the-art agile manufacturing center at UNM’s science and technology park south of campus. It’s backed by a five-year, $6.7 million Air Force grant to supply cutting-edge robotics and computer systems that AFRL and UNM researchers, students and private companies will use to create rapid design-build techniques for satellite systems and directed energy technologies.

“There’s a huge learning curve to figure out how to create whole, integrated systems for design and production,” said Christos Christodoulou, dean of UNM’s School of Electrical and Computer Engineering. “We want to develop the foundations for science, research and enabling technologies. We’ll bring companies directly on board to incorporate it into their production process.”

The lab includes three pairs of robots that work in unison on different phases of design and production, said electrical and computer engineering professor Rafael Fierro, principal investigator on the project.

Two Baxter industrial robots, each equipped with mechanical arms and a human shape to work shoulder-to-shoulder with people, will be used to manipulate and create assemblies, integrating components into modular arrays. The Baxters see things with cameras and respond to voice commands, helping them learn while working, Fierro said.

The next two robots are designed for speed and precision to rapidly manage repeatable production tasks.

“They include highly-specialized, laser-based sensors for absolute precision,” Fierro said.

A third set of robots, still on order, can fully assemble products, such as a small or medium-sized satellite. They’re equipped with artificial intelligence software to assess and adapt to new designs, Fierro said.

The lab also includes two different 3D printing machines to build components with standard and highly-advanced materials. Everything is networked through a central computer control system at UNM’s Ferris Engineering Center for remote management.

The lab provides a hands-on learning environment for students and others, helping to build the high-tech talent pool needed for next-generation advanced manufacturing.

It also offers a unique setting for Air Force, academic and private researchers to collaborate on new technologies, said AFRL Technology Engagement Office Director Matt Fetrow.

“It allows for off-base collaboration among everybody in a public setting,” Fetrow said.

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