The Central Florida chapter of Women in Defense (WID) and the National Defense Industrial Association (NDIA) hosted their bi-monthly luncheon, “Assuring Access to Space.” The discussion featured Col. Meredith S. Beg, deputy director of operations, servicing and maneuver, space systems command, Patrick Space Force Base, and Chief Master Sgt. Susan E. Sparks, senior enlisted leader for Space Launch Delta (SLD) 45, who shared insights on the roles and responsibilities of Assured Access to Space (AATS) and the need for innovation to accomplish their mission.


Beg began the discussion by speaking about her experiences and the inner working within the AATS, focusing on space access, operations integration, rapid delivery, and orbital resiliency.


The space access portion of AATS inherently includes the sustainment of the launch and test range systems, procurements (national security space launches, responsive space launch program, multi-mission manifesting), and orbital/suborbital launches. In addition, space access includes the National Federation of Spaceports and mission lifecycle management.


“We are looking for opportunities to grow from the past to deliver more capability, faster and less expensive,” said Beg.


Beg went on to discuss the importance of orbital resiliency, specifically the tactical responsive space and on-orbital servicing, maneuver, & debris removal. The tactical responsive space focuses on the ability to provide responsive launch for tactically responsive space (TacRS) on-demand delivery of space capabilities to the warfighter through all phases of conflict.


Currently Beg is the service lead for the on-orbital servicing, maneuver, & debris removal mission, where she is looking for opportunities to leverage and influence how the funding is being applied to address crucial problems. “It is truly an exciting time, there’s a lot of partnership required to create on-orbit servicing and logistics,” concluded Beg.


Sparks pivoted the focus of the discussion towards the mission of SLD 45 (Patrick Space Force Base, Cape Canaveral Space Force Base, and Ascension Island). Within the Department of Defense, SLD 45 is ranked #1 in ecological preservation for their environmental measures and attentiveness to the animals and vegetation in the surrounding areas.


SLD 45 is a space force installation but is connected to the Air Force for their mission. “Every time we launch a rocket, we require support from our security forces, our medical community, and bioenvironmental,” said Sparks. In addition to a large component of the Air Force population, there are numerous civilian military members, dependents, and retirees that provide support at SLD 45.


To conclude the discussion, Sparks highlighted the growth in launch statistics from civil commercial companies, NASA and the DoD. “From 2019 to today, SLD 45 has increased its launch capability fivefold, from just 17 launches to a projected 92 launches for 2023,” said Sparks.

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