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Midshipman Space Operations Squadron

  POSTED ON: Thursday, October 26, 2023 2:32 PM by

Four members of the U.S Air Force Academy (USAFA) Cadet Space Operations Squadron (CSOPS) trained twenty-five midshipmen as Midshipman Space Operations Squadron (MSOPS) during the week of October 15-October 21, 2023 in a joint effort to prepare junior officers in satellite operations. 


The U.S. Air Force Academy FalconSAT program provides cadets the opportunity to design, build, test and operate small satellites hosting Air Force Research Laboratory-sponsored experiments. Firstie cadets develop, test, and analyze satellite performance as part of an engineering capstone course sequence.  CSOPS, which consists of cadets from all class years, conducts daily operations for the on-orbit spacecraft. 

Similarly, the Naval Academy Small Satellite Program (NASSP) provides midshipmen an opportunity to design, analyze, build, test and operate small satellites with an experimental mission.  Satellite fabrication, testing and operation is conducted within USNA's Space Systems Engineering Lab. To date, eighteen space payloads have been delivered (the nineteenth is scheduled for launch in 2025) and midshipmen have been exclusively responsible for their operation through USNA’s Satellite Operations Center located within the Space Systems Engineering Laboratory (SSEL).  Since 2012, NASSP has focused on CubeSat-scale satellites and eight student-built CubeSats have been launched so far. 

Plans for a joint USAFA-USNA operations effort began in Fall 2022 largely as a result of an idea from MIDN 2/C Ethan Schneider while on semester exchange at USAFA .  Since the MSOPS training occurred during the week preceding the Navy-Air Force football game, Brigadier General Linell Letendre visited the SSEL to meet the midshipmen training as MSOPS.  

TSgt Taekausha Lomax, C1C Ashley Nies, C2C Nolon Turner, C1C Isaac Hanley and C2C Travon Stevens-Long delivered the training, consisting of classroom lecture, hardware-in-the-loop simulations, and live satellite operations of FalconSAT-6.   

The following MIDN qualified for the Space Systems Operator position during the week-long training: MIDN 2/C Sebastian Gordon, MIDN 3/C Gabe Iglesias, MIDN 3/C James Lee, and MIDN 4/D Andres Garcia.

MIDN qualified for both Ground Systems Operator (GSO) and Space Systems Operator (SSO) position are: MIDN 1/C Hayden Lenhard, MIDN 1/C Noah Loftis, MIDN 1/C Natasha Neve, MIDN 2/C James Millett, MIDN 3/C Andrew Alvey, MIDN 4/C Gabe Gonzales, MIDN 4/C Luke Hamilton, MIDN 4/C Brandon Moore, MIDN 4/C Nicolas Simmons, MIDN 4/C Benjamin Stowell, and MIDN 4/C Taiwo Wusu

MIDN qualified for GSO, SSO, and Commander position are: MIDN 1/C Blayne Butler, MIDN 3/C Ethan Austermann, MIDN 3/C Dakota Caton, MIDN 3/C William Hardaway, MIDN 3/C Travis Hockin, MIDN 3/C Maryana Rivera, MIDN 3/C Joel Thomas, MIDN 4/C Michael Huntington, and MIDN 4/C Jack Ray.

The team lead, MIDN 1/C Ethan Schneider, qualified for GSO, SSO, CMDR and Instructor position.

This effort was able to reach across the entire Yard, involving students from various academic backgrounds, including: Aerospace Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Naval Architecture, Operations Research, Data Science, Cyber Operations and Computer Science.  Nine Plebes also were qualified for satellite operation and they are expected to become the future leads in space operations at the Naval Academy. The training and satellite operation activities will continue under the leadership of these newly qualified operators. 

Category: General Interest, Academics, People, Research, Midshipman