By Staff Sgt. Matthew Coleman-Foster | 50th Space Wing Public Affairs
SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — The 50th Operations Support Squadron is upgrading their training facility to enhance their capability to support more mission sets.
The 50th OSS, with the assistance of the Space Training Acquisition Office, is renovating their current trainer area to support missions for the 4th Space Operations Squadron.
“We will eventually support our operational control system training mission,” said 2nd Lt. Caleb Guarino, 50th OSS resource manager. “This upgrade will offer support for missions such as upgraded early warning radar space based infrared systems. It’s a platform that allows any satellite training mission to be loaded on to it, it’s an emulator.”
The area was originally unclassified, but is now open storage secret allowing for more advanced training and crew readiness validations.
“The goal is to make our training scenarios as realistic as we can with the operational systems,” said Capt. Heather Oliver, 50th OSS flight commander. “By bringing more classified materials into the training environment, students will be able to see more of the issues faced in real-world situations.” Squadrons will be able to have an entire crew with different positions in one area, just like on the operations floor, and test how they perform in high-end and stressful environments.”
There are currently 56 consoles across six classrooms and six reserved for instructors and students.
Capt. Ryan McVay, 50th OSS operations flight commander, is responsible for all the instructors in the squadron. He said the updated SSTs are some of the best training developments he has seen come out of the 50th OSS.
“The ability to train up to 10 students simultaneously has allowed the OSS to improve without sacrificing quality of instruction,” McVay said. “The intuitive design of the software also allows new instructors to be brought up to speed quickly and easily, enhancing the overall training abilities of the group. Our jobs as instructors have been made better in a variety of ways with the addition of these next-generation training suites.”
The unit is also developing distributed mission operations-space, which will allow trainers from different squadrons on the SST to interact with each other. Currently, only 4th SOPS conducts all of their training on the SST and evaluations are conducted to certify space operators.
“A key difference between the SST and our old simulators is the SST is versatile,” Guarino said. “We’re able to pull up any system on the SST and it performs quickly and is very reliable.”
The SSTs have undergone research, development and sustainment here since 2011 and the unit is constantly adding new sections and features to it.
“We had to abide by some rules to make it open source secret, including following mod-like procedures,” Guarino said. “That has been in the works for the last two and a half years and was finished March 4.”
The contract for the project is approximately $110 million with the unit still undergoing mission specific vender plug-ins, which resemble having an application running on a phone.
While the 50th OSS maintains the SSTs and works on the research and development side of the program, they are available to all of the operations squadrons who MSVPs have applying to them.
“This program will provide more than initial training,” Oliver said. “It is continuing development and as we continue to train personnel with the warfighting mentality, the SSTs will help. It will give people the opportunity to train in the same environment and with the SSTs, trial and error is OK.”