by Airman 1st Class Jessica Hines
21st Space Wing Public Affairs
PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — After nearly six years of operating at an off-base location, the Space Education and Training Center broke ground for its new $14.4 million facility here Dec. 10. The state-of-the-art training and education facility will house the National Security Space Institute and Advanced Space Operations School for space professionals.
Moving the campus to a military installation resolves force protection and academic operations concerns with the current off-base facility. The anticipated move-in date is set for fiscal year 2012.
In attendance at the ground breaking was Maj. Gen. Michael Basla, Air Force Space Command vice commander.
“It’s been almost 10 years since the release of the Space Commission Report, which concluded there was a need to ‘create and sustain a cadre of space professionals’ and for the nation to ‘place a high priority on intensifying investments in career development, education and training,’” General Basla said at the ceremony.
The vice commander also attributed the groundbreaking as symbolic for several reasons, most notably because “it signifies the need to train as we fight; not only as joint warriors, but as warriors in domains where the lines between space and cyberspace are becoming blurred,” he said.
Col. Stephen N. Whiting, 21st Space Wing commander, said the 21st Space Wing — America’s space superiority wing — is the right host for the two schools, which are tremendous assets to today’s space operators.
“As the host command, the 21st Space Wing is proud to welcome NSSI and ASOpS to Peterson Air Force Base,” Colonel Whiting said. “We look forward to supporting their education of today’s warrior Airmen in the realm of space.”
Since 2004, the SETC has operated from a leased commercial facility in Colorado Springs because adequate on-base facilities did not exist anywhere within the region. While the current facilities are suitable, they were designed for business use, not specifically to promote academic excellence.
In addition, the current home does not meet all the force protection criteria a DoD agency requires to operate in a post-9/11 world. The new SETC campus will provide an ideal environment for higher learning while eliminating current force protection concerns and afford the staff, faculty and students ready access to Air Force Space Command and Peterson AFB’s resources.
The center is made up of four organizations, including ASOpS; NSSI, which is part of the Air University’s Ira C. Eaker Center for Professional Development; a Reserve component of the NSSI; and a Navy Cyber Forces detachment. The building and some other support functions will be run by the ASOpS.
Each year, ASOpS provides advanced training to more than 1,600 DoD space professionals, while NSSI, the Air Force’s space professional development school, provides first-class education to more than 800 space professionals annually.
“You are the key to our nation’s investment in the next generation of space professionals,” General Basla said to the approximately 75 people in attendance, “as we continue to break ground in the way we train and educate our space warriors for tomorrow’s joint fight.”