VSFB and NSIN Collaborate to Revolutionize Space Launch Operations

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Olga Houtsma

Space Launch Delta 30 personnel worked this week to develop a model for the Spaceport of the Future through a National Security Innovation Network’s (NSIN) bootcamp, a U.S. Department of Defense program.

This is just one bootcamp in a series of offerings at Vandenberg aimed at increasing creativity, problem solving, and collaboration. This week, the proposed challenge statement focuses on revolutionizing space operations with the hope of creating the capacity to treat space launch in the same way we now treat air travel by 2030.

Over the past decade, Vandenberg has witnessed a steady increase in launch cadence, setting the stage for evolution as a next-generation spaceport. However, this transformation requires critical consideration to determine a phased approach.

To evaluate this multi-faceted approach, NSIN bootcamp participants have been tasked with identifying and proposing actionable steps toward achieving the goal of becoming a next-generation spaceport with an emphasis on creativity, problem solving, and collaboration.

Participants engaged in hands-on exercises, conducted user interviews, and developed innovative solutions aimed at overcoming identified obstacles. The bootcamp, typically spanning four days, offers a crash course in human-centered design and lean launchpad training, equipping participants with the tools and methodologies necessary to tackle complex problems effectively.

“Our goal is to find the fastest, most effective ways to unearth real problems, and then design solutions,” said Nic Meliones, a NSIN bootcamp coach. “Ultimately, the fastest way to solve problems is to talk to users.”

One of the key elements of the bootcamp is its emphasis on user-centric approaches to problem solving. By engaging with stakeholders here, which include service members, civilians, families, and other relevant parties, participants gain valuable insights into the challenges faced in space launch operations.

“I welcome challenges to my ideas because they prompt me to reconsider and refine them,” said U.S. Space Force 2nd Lt. Feiyu Xue, 2nd Space Launch Squadron Space Force responsible engineer. “It’s important to engage in discussions with diverse perspectives, assessing the pros and cons to reach a balanced compromise while maintaining our own original opinions, rather than following others blindly.”

This approach aims to foster empathy and understanding, paving the way for more effective solutions.

“I’m away from my usual surroundings, and being in this environment, I can see different perspectives from different people,” said participant Jaron Chen, who works on Vandenberg as a software engineer. “We’re engaging with individuals outside our normal circles, which will broaden our understanding of the bigger picture.”

Throughout the program, teams are guided by experienced instructors and innovation coaches, ensuring that they stay on track and maximize their potential for success. Each day is dedicated to specific tasks, from framing hypotheses and conducting user interviews, to generating buy-in from stakeholders and presenting solutions to leadership.

“Each team is focused on different problems that involve different stakeholders,” said Kwaku Farkye, a NSIN bootcamp coach. “We go to the teams to better understand what they're struggling with and trying to make progress on, and we help apply targeted coaching to overcome obstacles.”

As the bootcamp progresses, participants are encouraged to continue refining their solutions, leveraging the skills and knowledge gained during the program taking Vandenberg one step closer to new era in space launch.

“Keeping an open mind throughout the process is crucial,” said Xue. “Recognize that you may not have all the answers right away and instead focus on understanding the problem thoroughly and consider who can benefit from your proposed solutions.”

For inquiries about NSIN’s Bootcamp program or other innovative programs at Vandenberg, contact the Digital Transformation Office at sld30.dto.workflow@spaceforce.mil