Test Pilot school graduates first Space Test Fundamentals class

  • Published
  • By 1st Lt. Christine Saunders
  • Air Force Test Center

The U.S. Air Force Test Pilot School graduated the first-ever Space Test Fundamentals class April 6, 2021, at Edwards Air Force Base, California. Fifteen enlisted, officer, civilian Airmen and Guardians represent the first class dedicated to testing within the newly contested domain of Space.  

Gen. John W. “Jay” Raymond, the U.S. Space Force chief of space operations, was on-hand to give the graduation address.

“You were handpicked from a pool of over 160 applicants, not only to attend this inaugural Space Test course, but also to help us build this course and define its future as the initial Space Test cadre,” said Raymond. “You were the “Beta testers” of the course itself, simultaneously studying hard and developing the future of our space test education and training program.”

The course enables the USSF to enhance its test and evaluation mission and multiply its ability to deliver combat-ready space forces.

“For more than 75 years, Test Pilot School has trained and educated the Air Force’s test leaders– bold pilots, weapons systems officers, engineers, and astronauts,” said Raymond. “Today, we expand upon that legacy.”

Continuing the legacy of bold and innovative leaders is paramount, as this new generation will be both ambassadors and pioneers of streamlined, integrated test – combining the classically stove-piped experimentation, developmental test, operational test, and tactics development to deliver space warfighting capabilities to the field.

The initial cadre of graduates come from various space warfighting disciplines to include operators, engineers, program managers—civilian and military Airmen and Guardians, ranging in rank from specialist 4 through lieutenant colonel.

“I’m very proud of these young Airmen and Guardians, carrying the pioneering spirit of the Test community into Space,” said Maj. Gen. Christopher Azzano, Air Force Test Center commander. “This graduation is the culmination of years of collaboration between the Air Force Test Center and the Space community.”

The three-month program leverages world-class USAF TPS expertise and is designed to provide hands-on training in flight-test fundamentals, systems test, space science application, advanced space system test and evaluation, and broad exposure to the foremost centers of space operations and testing.

Throughout the course, a variety of case studies, guest lectures, and site visits were utilized to learn from those currently operating in the space environment and those who have paved the way, to include the experiences of three astronauts, and the retelling of the F-15 satellite intercept test program by retirees Maj. Gen. Doug Pearson and Col. Jack Anthony.

“To the Air Force Test Center and the Test Pilot School, thank you! In a little over a year, your leadership and collaboration turned the idea of a space test course into reality,” concluded Raymond. “I look forward to building a rich tradition of collaboration between the Air and Space Test communities.” 

The initial Space Test Fundamentals course took 18 months to develop, and will evolve with student feedback.

The next class is scheduled to begin May 24.