13:04 PM

Research Funds to be Allocated for Top Science and Technology Challenges Through AFRL/USSF Opportunity

Washington, DC—March 27, 2023. In direct partnership with the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) and United States Space Force (USSF), the Universities Space Research Association (USRA) today announced funding to support the second cycle of the University Consortium Research Opportunity (UCRO). USRA administers UCRO to link the USSF and AFRL with academia to improve collaboration efforts between institutions of higher education and contribute to the advancement of meaningful scientific research. Importantly, UCRO also provides undergraduate, graduate, and postdoctoral fellows with authentic research opportunities intended to increase interest in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).

Graphic showing AFRL logo, USSF logo, and USRA logo

This cycle of UCRO will support the facilitation of joint applied research focused on transformational space domain technology breakthroughs and developments that will lead to the advancement of capabilities that can be transitioned and integrated into current and future USSF and other U.S. Government space capabilities. A notice of intent describing the UCRO opportunity and anticipated request for proposal (RFP) release is now accessible via https://afrlscholars.usra.edu/urep/ucro-2-0/.

The research focus areas will include Beyond Geostationary Earth Orbit (xGEO) Operations and Space Domain Awareness (SDA), and will encompass technologies needed to ensure safe, continued, and enhanced capability across all space areas (including moons and planets) for U.S. military and civil operations. Specific technology areas of interest to the xGEO/SDA topic are sensing technologies, astrodynamics, and training/outreach/education. According to the notice of intent, while many of these technologies are applicable to other orbital regimes or even other domains, priority will be given to proposals specifically addressing challenges related to space object tracking in xGEO.

According to Dr. Amanda Smith-Hackler, USRA Director of Education and UCRO Principal Investigator, “The research to be conducted specific to xGEO/SDA is critical to mitigating future risks and advancing the mission of both the United States Space Force and Air Force Research Laboratory. This opportunity will accelerate scientific and technical research while cultivating a new generation of young STEM professionals.”

For more information: https://afrlscholars.usra.edu/urep/ucro-2-0/ 



About the University Research Consortium Opportunity

The U.S. Space Force (USSF) and Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) established the University Consortium Research Opportunity (UCRO) to engage students and postdoctoral fellows in space-based research and development to increase the number and diversity of future space professionals. This is a new approach to leverage university research and advancement to solve critical USSF and AFRL technical problems. It allows the opportunity to build capacity for space research and innovation at institutes of higher education, including Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs), Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs), and other designated Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs). The USSF and the UCRO seek to fund university teams committed to developing new and novel solutions to research problems.

About USRA

Founded in 1969, under the auspices of the National Academy of Sciences at the request of the U.S. Government, the Universities Space Research Association (USRA) is a nonprofit corporation chartered to advance space-related science, technology, and engineering. USRA operates scientific institutes and facilities and conducts other major research and educational programs. It engages the university community and employs in-house scientific leadership, innovative research and development, and project management expertise. More information about USRA is available at https://www.usra.edu.