Students and AFRL on Leading Edge:

Gen. Bruce Carlson, AFMC commander, commented recently on the need to stem the space brain drain. (DR 11/22/05) Air Force Research Lab is at the forefront of one effort to do just that. AFRL joined with the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, DARPA, and NASA about five years ago to develop the University Nanosatellite Program. Today, lab officials say, the program has some 1,000 students “who represent the next generation of aerospace employees.” Recently, an estimated 13 universities participated in the NanoSat-3 competition, with the University of Texas’ FASTRAC project selected as the winner. FASTRAC is scheduled to be delivered to AFRL’s Space Vehicles Directorate at Kirtland AFB, N.M., in early 2006 to begin testing and integration activities. AFRL expects to have the satellite launch-ready by February. Its mission is to demonstrate a global positioning system mission using commercial, off-the-shelf technology and four technology areas of interest to the directorate: responsive space, a micro-discharge plasma thruster, low-cost mini-sat technologies, and formation flight.