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Fort Carson Mountaineer

Army astronaut explores space basics

By Staff Sgt. Aaron Rognstad | U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE — After spending nine months orbiting the Earth on the International Space Station and conducting more than 45 hours of spacewalks, one of the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command’s astronauts said he still had more to learn about space.

Col. Andrew Morgan, an Army astronaut stationed at Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, attended the Army Space Cadre Basic Course, an introductory class for all USASMDC Soldiers and Department of the Army civilians served in a space billet, Oct. 5-16, 2020.

“You’re never too senior to go back to the basics,” Morgan said. “There was some subject matter in (the course) that I was familiar with, but it was actually very little. The majority of the course is on Army and Department of Defense capabilities in space, which is not something we focus on at NASA.”

The course provided a basic knowledge of space capabilities and how they enable the warfighter, including topics, such as the overall space environment, GPS satellites, and missile defense and warning. It focused on space capabilities, limitations and vulnerabilities in the context of full-spectrum operations as well as military operations in an environment where space capabilities are degraded or contested.

Morgan said he took the class because he thought it was important to understand USASMDC’s and other military branches’ space capabilities.

“We have far more capabilities in the Army in defense space than I ever realized,” Morgan said. “SMDC has a broad mission set that is very important to the nation.”

Kenneth Graw Jr., Army Space Cadre Basic Course manager and a former Army Joint Tactical Ground Station staff sergeant in USAMSDC, said the course focused more on the space tactical level rather than the strategic.

“It’s an Army-centric angle on the fundamental knowledge of space concepts, spacecraft design and how unified land operations integrate space capabilities at the warfighter level,” Graw said. “A lot of the content we teach, astronauts don’t get at NASA.”

Morgan said he enjoyed the course and learned a lot from the instructors.

“All the instructors are fantastic,” he said. “It was a busy two weeks. I had to work and study hard to do well on the exams.”

Soldiers who successfully complete the course earn the 3Y skill identifier/additional skill identifier, or SI/ASI, called space cadre. An ASI shows extra skills, training and qualification a Soldier may possess.

Morgan commissioned into the Army upon his graduation from the Military Academy in 1998. He earned his doctorate in 2002 and served as an emergency physician in the Army before being selected by NASA as an astronaut in 2013. Morgan most recently served as flight engineer on the International Space Station for Expedition 60, 61 and 62.

Army astronaut explores space basics
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