The AE School Welcomes the Chief of Space Operations for the US Space Force

The AE School Welcomes the Chief of Space Operations for the US Space Force
Gen. Raymond, William Jun, Grayson Hudgins
Listening to the Next Generation. During his tour of the Space Systems Design Lab, Gen. Raymond spoke with AE doctoral students William Jun, left, and Grayson Huggins, right, about their CubeSat research. View more photos. 

President Angel Cabrera and General John Raymond talk briefly during Gen. Raymond's visit to Georgia Tech
Tech President Ángel Cabrera met with
Gen. John Raymond prior to the day's tour

A day-long tour of the Georgia Institute of Technology on February 24 introduced General John "Jay" Raymond to some 'next gen thinking' that he might find helpful in his latest assignment.

The recently named chief of Space Operations for the United States Space Force spent the day talking space exploration and space policy with faculty, researchers, and students from the Sam Nunn School of International Affairs, the Center for International Strategy, Technology and Policy, and the Daniel Guggenheim School of Aerospace Engineering.

He capped off the day with a lecture, "Space as a Warfighting Domain," before a packed audience in the Institute’s Kendeda Building for Innovative Sustainable Design.

"There is nothing we do in the Joint Forces that isn't related to space," he told listeners before giving a brief history of the military's space engagement. "Our adversaries have been watching us, wanting to disrupt us, and our job is to make sure that never happens."

Raymond ended his hour-long talk by encouraging the next generation of innovators in the audience to study hard and work even harder. The United States Space Force may be in their future. After all, when he was in college, Raymond said, he didn't touch a computer until his junior year.

"It's an exciting time to be in this business. I wish I could change places with you... So don't be bashful...you have a skillset that when you graduate and are hired, whatever you do, you can help this country."

Space as a Laboratory: The Daniel Guggenheim School

Mark Costello, Prof. Koki Ho, and General John Raymond pose for a photo during Gen. Raymond's Georgia Tech visit
AE chair Mark Costello and AE professor  Koki Ho spoke with Gen. Raymond about optimizing space operations

Raymond’s visit to the Guggenheim School introduced him to research on a broad array of projects – from optimizing space mission operations to space situational awareness and the alternatives to GPS navigation.

"The AE School has a strong, historical relationship with the military," said William R.T. Oakes School Chair Mark Costello. "We are thrilled to welcome General Raymond to campus and are excited about digging into the challenges that the Space Force will put before us."

Much of Costello's conversation with Raymond revolved around CubeSats – the miniaturized satellites that are now routinely launched into space via traditional two-stage rockets.

By October of 2020, the AE School will have launched seven student-built CubeSats into space, each with unique scientific and technological missions. One of them, ORCA, will be launched later this year to calibrate ground-based orbital and positioning equipment from space. Student researchers in the Space Systems Design Lab worked with GTRI to design it in just six weeks after a launch spot was unexpectedly offered to them last November.

“They spent pretty much every waking moment during winter break working on it,” said Prof. Brian Gunter.

“The great thing about our lab is that our undergraduate researchers are primary participants in these launches – designing the vehicles, building the circuit boards, 3D-printing the thrusters. They learn to take an idea from the beginning and follow it through with all of the complexities that unfold.”

Doctoral student William Jun spoke to Gen. Raymond about his collaboration with JPL researchers on a reduced infrastructure radio navigation project.

“The goal is to is to build an alternative navigation system for missions that go to the moon, one with a smaller navigational footprint than GPS,” Jun said.

“You are doing this for space, but you are also building something that we can use here,” Raymond said.  

Throughout his lab tour, Raymond was noticeably engaged in each presentation, stopping speakers only to mine additional technical details from his guides. Prof. E. Glenn Lightsey, the SSDL director, applauded the General’s keen interest in the field and in the future.

“We want space to become an active, vibrant environment, but as that happens, we will need to think about how to protect our assets in space. And we will also need to think about how to regulate safety; right now, there are no rules about how to fly. The Space Force can transform the way we see both of these things.”  

Keeping Pace with the Need for Policy Innovation: The Sam Nunn School

Mariel Borowitz
Prof. Mariel Borowitz

Raymond later visited with students and faculty from the Nunn School for policy-oriented discussions that ran the gamut — from the complexities of creating the unique warfighting culture of a new service branch to what constitutes unacceptable aggression in space.

Raymond said the need is great for not only technical innovation, but also breakthroughs in space policy, an area he said currently resembles the “Wild Wild West.”

He told students that enormous opportunities are waiting for people like them in the space sector, whether it be military, civilian, or government spaceflight programs.

“When you graduate from here, know that you’re good enough to do whatever you want to do,” he said.

Mariel Borowitz, an assistant professor of space policy in the Nunn School, helped organize the visit and said she hopes it will lead to relationships that can help Georgia Tech play a role in the success of the Space Force.

Among other initiatives, the Nunn School and the Guggenheim School are partnering to develop a joint graduate certificate program in international security and aerospace systems. The Nunn School and the Daniel Guggenheim School collaborate widely with other disciplines through Tech's Center for Space Technology and Research.

“The Space Force is going to need people who understand the strategic implications of operating in a contested space environment, and this is the type of issue that Nunn School faculty and students are well equipped to do,” she said.

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