AFRL Announces Impending Award of Cislunar Space Domain Awareness Projects
The Air Force Research Laboratory announced the impending award of a contract for a new experiment on cislunar space domain awareness to help the United States military observe and track objects in between Earth and the moon. A ranking AFRL officer said that a solicitation for the Cislunar Highway Patrol System is likely to be issued by March, C4ISRNET reported Monday.
Col. Eric Felt, director of the AFRL’s Space Vehicles Directorate, told reporters that he expects an award to be made sometime in summer 2022 under the Space Force’s Space Enterprise Consortium contracting vehicle. He added that the service’s leadership is eyeing a 2025 launch date for the first mission under the CHPS program.
The Department of Defense’s current interest in cislunar space represents a pivot in its exploration priorities. Felt said that this shift is being spurred by fears that America’s adversaries may be planning to gain a stronger posture in this less-explored region. He, however, admitted that cislunar confrontations between near-peer rivals are unlikely to take place anytime soon.
Felt noted that the more immediate motivator for cislunar space awareness commercial. While he was not specific, the AFRL official indicated that this vast area may hold numerous opportunities for the commercial space industry.
C4ISRNET reported that in April 2021, the Space Vehicles Directorate convened a cislunar stakeholders meeting, bringing together officials from the DOD, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and the Intelligence Community to coordinate their work in this area and develop a road map that identifies the capabilities each agency is pursuing.
The term “cislunar space” means the region of space from the Earth out to and including the region around the surface of the moon.
Tags: Air Force Research Laboratory C4ISRNET Cislunar Highway Patrol System cislunar space Eric Felt John Raymond space US Space Force