VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. --
The Air Force continuously looks to innovate and prepare for the future. At Vandenberg Air Force Base, a piece of mission software called Perimeter 9 looks to be part of that future.
Perimeter 9 was developed by the 2nd Space Launch Squadron (2 SLS) team during the initial COVID-19 emergency response efforts at Vandenberg AFB.
“2 SLS typically provides data entry and data visualization software in support of Launch Mission Assurance,” said Maj. Jason Lowery, 2nd Space Launch Squadron director of operations. “We have a Systems Engineering & Integration contract that hires talented developers to help us design and build the software. These tools help our responsible engineers and mission assurance technicians evaluate the launch procedures and operations of our commercial partners when they are delivering national security payloads into orbit for the government.”
This skillset of fast and flexible programming is necessary for the 2 SLS Mission Assurance team to keep pace with a rapidly-changing commercial launch environment, which also made it the ideal skillset to be leveraged by the 30th Space Wing to support another rapidly-changing environment at Vandenberg - their COVID-19 emergency response.
“When the 30th Operations Group saw what the 30th Space Wing Crisis Action Team and 30th Medical Group were dealing with, it looked very much like a Launch Mission Assurance problem that 2 SLS was well equipped to solve,” said Lowery. “Within 72 hours we had a working minimum viable product deployed onto local servers.”
According to James Haleski, 30th Civil Engineer Squadron chief of readiness and emergency management, the mission application had a positive impact on Vandenberg’s Emergency Operations Center providing a custom-tailored database with an ability to support multiple agencies with the most up-to-date information.
“Having the P9 system made a daily reconciliation of requirements being completed for each person simple and attainable,” said Haleski. “It quickly reduced the amount of personnel required within the Emergency Operations Center to support the coordination of base safety, security and care of our affected personnel, but also expedited their ability to rapidly support. This ultimately protects our installation personnel, takes care of our people and enables leaders to focus on the mission.”
With support from 30th Space Wing leadership, the initial Perimeter-9 mission application was built into a more robust and cyber secure product while simultaneously being pushed for support at higher levels.
According to Lowery, this internal push of the P9 application coincided with a Department of Defense software development initiative based on a new cloud native software development platform called DoD Platform One.
"There’s been a fundamental change in the entire architecture of the DoD with respect to how it designs, develops and delivers mission software," explained Lowery. "The DoD is going through a reform, where they are creating what is effectively a DoD app store. Different military branches and units within those branches can design, develop and deliver cloud-native mission software into production. Imagine fighting software used in real time operations that you can access securely regardless of the device you are using - that’s the strategic context for Perimeter-9."
With P9 fresh from real-world testing in a COVID-19 response environment, the perfect opportunity has presented itself for the 2 SLS to get their mission app accredited on the newly developed DoD Platform One, making Perimeter-9 available for use across all of U.S. Space Force.
"Just like we see in the commercial tech industry, P9 started as a small, boutique application designed for the 30th Space Wing, but is beginning to scale into something much bigger. If the DoD is marching towards a DoD app store capable of hosting mission applications, then we want to posture 30th Space Wing to be a leading Silicon-Valley-style incubator, discovering and deploying those first ‘killer apps.’ For this reason, Perimeter 9 represents way more than just a COVID app to 30th Space Wing. This is our opportunity to learn and discover what it takes to build accredited cloud-native applications on Platform One, to prove to the that even operational squadrons and tactical units can deploy accredited software, and to seed a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship that could scale across USSF."