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Space Force commits to developing networking center at Grand Forks Air Force Base

The Space Networking Center at GFAFB supports the SDA’s low-Earth orbit satellite mission, and will serve as the backbone for all global U.S. military communications.

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From left, Chief of Space Operations Gen. John Raymond, Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall and Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Charles Brown discuss the U.S. Space Development Agency with Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D.
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GRAND FORKS – The U.S. Space force has committed to advancing the Space Development Agency’s Space Networking Center at Grand Forks Air Force Base, as the SDA prepares to become part of the Space Force in October.

In a news release Wednesday, May 18, Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., said he received the commitment this week from Space Force Chief John Raymond. The Space Networking Center at GFAFB supports the SDA’s low-Earth orbit satellite mission, and will serve as the backbone for all global U.S. military communications.

“Grand Forks Air Force Base is the ideal location to host the Space Development Agency’s first Space Networking Center in support of the forthcoming low-Earth orbit satellite network,” Hoeven said in a news release. “We’ve been working with SDA and the Air Force to secure this new mission, which is essential for our nation to stay ahead of our adversaries in developing critical new technologies.”

The satellite mission comes about as all U.S. military branches are beginning to transition toward a laser-based communication system, from a system based on radio waves. Satellites are partially designed by defense and technology company, General Atomics, at the Grand Sky drone business and research park near GFAFB. Hoeven announced the satellite mission in September last year , then worked to secure $18 million in the 2022 fiscal year 2022 funding to establish SDA’s space networking centers.

Hoeven said over time, the mission could include not only operating SDA satellites but linking them with unmanned aerial systems, which would complement GFAFB’s role in the Air Force’s intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions.

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Both Hoeven and Sen. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., worked with SDA Director Derek Tournear, to identify funding priorities to help advance the new satellite networking center. They also discussed this priority with Air Force Chief of Staff General Charles Brown during a visit to Grand Forks.

Hoeven has also hosted Tournear in Grand Forks to outline efforts to establish the new center and announce the new laser communications project.

Related Topics: JOHN HOEVEN
Adam Kurtz is the community editor for the Grand Forks Herald. He covers higher education and other topics in Grand Forks County and the city.

Kurtz joined the Herald in July 2019. He covered business and county government topics before covering higher education and some military topics.

Tips and story ideas are welcome. Get in touch with him at akurtz@gfherald.com, or DM at @ByAdamKurtz.

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