By Staff Sgt. Erica Picariello
50th Space Wing Public Affairs
With detachments and operating locations in Colorado, California and Florida, the Space Innovation and Development Center’s 17th Test Squadron’s expertise is matched only by the diversity of its mission.
“At just about any time, day or night the 17 TS is executing an operational test somewhere around the globe,” said Senior Master Sgt. Todd Clark, 17 TS superintendant.
As the command’s operational test and evaluation squadron for space, the unit brings together a handpicked team that can examine anything from immediate, “rapid reaction” responses to theater needs, to the more traditional, multi-year acquisitions such as the global positioning system and space-based infrared system.
“Sooner or later, virtually every space system in Air Force Space Command will be visited by the 17 TS,” said Col. Shawn Barnes, 595th Space Group commander, 17 TS parent organization.
“The 17 TS is staffed with approximately 135 Vigilant Hand and Top Hand board selects, advanced academic degree recipients, weapons officers and a variety of officer, enlisted, civil service and contractor experts,” said Lt. Col. Pete Flores, 17 TS commander. “They team closely with developers and operational users to conduct assessments that help ensure Air Force Space Command systems are suitable and effective for operational use. The squadron advises AFSPC senior leaders in making a wide range of command decisions, including acquisition milestone determinations, fielding decisions and operational acceptance decisions.”
Although many people across the command have been exposed to the test execution process, which often lasts from days to weeks, the majority of the squadron’s time is devoted to detailed test planning and meticulous data analysis, both of which can take many months.
“We go to extraordinary lengths to make sure our test data meets the highest analytical standards and can provide definitive information to the command,” said Lt. Col. (ret.) Steve Bragado, 17 TS technical director.
Throughout all phases of a given test event, the 17th works to effectively and efficiently lead the entire operational test process.
“AFSPC trusts us to plan, execute and analyze ops testing in order to deliver timely and unbiased data,” Colonel Flores said. “We play a unique role in helping the command make the best decisions it can in delivering world-wide space capabilities to the warfighter.”