AFRL showcases key programs at 2024 Space Symposium

  • Published
  • By Bryan Ripple
  • Air Force Research Laboratory Public Affairs
WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio (AFRL) – The Air Force Research Laboratory, or AFRL, will feature several space-related technologies and programs during the 39th Space Symposium at the Broadmoor, Colorado Springs, Colorado, April 8-11, 2024.

“As the Department of the Air Force re-optimizes for Great Power Competition and the U.S. Space Force ensures continued competitive endurance, the Air Force Research Laboratory remains focused on One Lab, One Fight accelerating leap-ahead capability to warfighters in both Services,” said Dr. Andrew Williams, deputy technology executive officer for Space Science and Technology, or S&T. “AFRL’s science and technology investment is foundational for U.S. capability enabling resilient, multi-domain solutions to create complexity and increase the cost of aggression and ultimately empower deterrence.”

Williams will participate during a panel discussion, “Inventing the Future for Space Superiority,” with representatives from the Naval Research Laboratory and NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory April 11, 2024, from 8:45-9:30 a.m. MT. Panel discussion topics will include critical technology areas for each lab as well as creating a robust science and technology ecosystem, expectations for 2040 and beyond, the One AFRL, One Fight focus and much more. Joining Williams as panelists will be Dr. Stephen Meier, Director of the NRL Center for Space Technology (NCST) and Dr. Andrew Gray, Area Manager, Program at NASA JPL.

AFRL programs

At the Space Symposium, AFRL will highlight a variety of space programs and technologies where AFRL is working, including Space Situational Awareness, Rapid Response and Space Support to the Joint Force. Technologies to be included at the AFRL exhibit booth include Neuromorphic Computing for Space, or NICS+; the Oracle Family of Systems; Safe Trusted Autonomy for Responsible Spacecraft, or STARS; Propulsion Unit with Modular Applications, or PUMA; Navigational Technology Satellite-3, or NTS-3; and Global Lightning.

Neuromorphic Computing Intelligence Systems+ is an Applied Research development and demonstration program, emphasizing integration of advanced neuromorphic technologies into space and airborne experiments for on-system learning. Advance architectures exposing new capabilities for artificial intelligence, machine learning and autonomous solutions for edge computing.

The Oracle Family of Systems provides space situational awareness, object detection and tracking in the cislunar space, supporting a resurgence of interest in lunar exploration and development across civil, commercial and international space agencies as part of a collaborative effort between the AFRL Space Vehicles Directorate and the Transformational Capabilities Office.
Safe Trusted Autonomy for Responsible Spacecraft, or STARS, is focused on developing novel safe autonomy tools for multi-satellite teaming operations. This program integrates safety assurances at run-time with advanced Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning tools while incorporating operator preferences and interfacing to enable catered and efficient planning to the next generation of Guardian operators. Lastly, to showcase the integration of these technology areas, AFRL is developing, integrating and demonstrating them in a multi-satellite emulation laboratory at Kirtland AFB to strengthen operator trust in such platforms and allow for direct operator interactions with satellite emulation testbeds.
Propulsion Unit with Modular Applications, or PUMA, is modular spacecraft propulsion technology that enables dynamic space operations across the full space ecosystem. Modular propulsion technology eliminates integration constraints by establishing standard interfaces and model-based systems engineering for rapid space vehicle and launch vehicle integration, on-orbit refueling, and propulsion system upgrades. The unit [ML1] [RA2] can use new AFRL-developed propellant technology, like ASCENT (Advanced Spacecraft Energetic Non-Toxic), to enable rapid call-up and responsive launch capabilities. PUMA is an AFRL-developed responsive propulsion system ready to be transitioned in 2026.
Navigation Technology Satellite-3, or NTS-3, will operate for one year in a near-geosynchronous orbit, and it will be the center point for multiple experiments across multiple technical areas. The satellite will broadcast navigation signals from its phased array antenna, which can electronically steer signals to a desired region without physically moving the satellite. These signals are created through a digital, on-orbit reprogrammable PNT signal generator, which not only supports legacy signals and advanced signals not currently broadcast on GPS, but also allows new signal updates after launch.

Global Lightning is a prototyping effort to develop communications systems to connect military satellites and commercial satellite-based internet constellations in a single network.

Representatives from AFRL’s Strategic Partnering Directorate will be on hand to discuss science and technology challenges, grants and multiple types of partnership opportunities with AFRL. Develop your idea, launch a business, get published, tackle challenging problems or help secure our nation. It’s all possible when you partner with AFRL.
SpaceWERX is the U.S. Space Force-affiliated arm of the AFWERX team and focuses on advancing innovative technologies for USSF Guardians and expanding the space industrial space by guiding additional partners, leveraging commercial investment and rapidly pursuing new technologies while closely aligning its efforts with space operators and acquisition professionals within the USSF. Innovators can visit Space Force Tech Connect, where users can submit ideas and capabilities to AFRL subject matter experts for potential feedback, collaborations and opportunities.
To view the agenda and register for the 2024 Space Symposium, visit
About AFRL
The Air Force Research Laboratory is the primary scientific research and development center for the Department of the Air Force. AFRL plays an integral role in leading the discovery, development and integration of affordable warfighting technologies for our air, space and cyberspace force. With a workforce of more than 12,500 across nine technology areas and 40 other operations across the globe, AFRL provides a diverse portfolio of science and technology ranging from fundamental to advanced research and technology development. For more information, visit