Space Test Program celebrates 50th anniversary of first launch

Former directors of the Department of Defense Space Test Program speak to the annual science and technology review conference at Kirtland Air Force Base, May 17. The panel of former directors fielded questions from the audience about a range of different topics.

Former directors of the Department of Defense Space Test Program speak to the annual science and technology review conference at Kirtland Air Force Base, May 17. The panel of former directors fielded questions from the audience about a range of different topics.

KIRTLAND AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. --

The Air Force Space and Missile Center celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Department of Defense Space Test Program's first launch May 15 at Kirtland. The celebration was tied into a yearly conference the Advanced Systems and Development Directorate hosts at Kirtland. 

SMC, headquartered at Los Angeles Air Force Base, California, is the center of technical excellence for developing, acquiring, fielding and sustaining military space systems. The celebration included several guest speakers from across the Department of Defense and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

“As we celebrate the past 50 years of success with STP, and as we experiment you’re naturally going to have a few failures,” said Maj. Gen. Roger Teague, Director of Space Programs, Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition. “It’s important for us to have a safe environment that allows us to learn and grow from our failures. We may fall, but we always get back up, dust ourselves off and continue to get better.”

The STP’s first space launch was in 1967, when it successfully launched a meteorological satellite. Since that launch, the program has provided access to space for the DoD, including global positioning systems, or GPS, surveillance, and communications satellites. 

Kirtland has been home to the center’s Advanced Systems and Development Directorate since June 1993. The office develops affordable and resilient space capabilities now and into the future. STP has been at Kirtland since 1955.

“Team Kirtland has really been a family to us,” said Col. Jason Cothern, STP director. “Thank you to Colonel Froehlich, the Air Base Wing, and Team Kirtland for all of your support. You’re excellent in providing everything we need to accomplish our mission.”