March 22, 1987: Air Force Rocket Propulsion Laboratory Redesignated the Air Force Astronautics Laboratory

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  • Air Force Rocket Propulsion Laboratory

The Air Force Rocket Propulsion Laboratory (SSD) on Leuhman Ridge was redesignated the Air Force Astronautics Laboratory. This change highlighted the expansion of the facility’s traditional role from Air Force rocket propulsion systems into that of developing space technology and satellite systems.

In 1945 the Air Force Cambridge Research Laboratories were established. These laboratories were active from 1945 to 2011, following consolidation to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and Kirtland Air Force Base under the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure Commission.  The labs were founded as the Air Force Cambridge Research Center (AFCRC), a Cold War systems development organization which developed telephone modem communications for a Digital Radar Relay in 1949.  Created by General Henry H. Arnold in 1945, AFCRC participated in Project Space Track and Semi-Automatic Ground Environment development.  The path to a consolidated Air Force Research Laboratory began with the passage of the Goldwater–Nichols Act which was designed to streamline the use of resources by the Department of Defense.[7] In addition to this Act, the end of the Cold War began a period of budgetary and personnel reductions within the armed forces in preparation for a "stand-down" transition out of readiness for a global war with the Soviet Union.  Prior to 1990, the Air Force laboratory system spread research out into 13 different laboratories and the Rome Air Development Center which each reported up two separate chains of command: a product center for personnel, and the Air Force Systems Command Director of Science & Technology for budgetary purposes.  Bowing to the constraints of a reduced budget and personnel, the Air Force merged the existing research laboratories into four "superlabs" in December 1990. During this same time period, the Air Force Systems Command and Air Force Logistics Command merged to form Air Force Materiel Command (AFMC) in July 1992.


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