Los Alamos National Laboratory has a venerable reputation for delivering the technology necessary to respond effectively to significant threats of broad scope. This reputation is especially strong in the field of space science, which combines the underpinning of basic science with complex national security missions. Thanks to a topflight staff of permanent scientists and postdoctoral fellows, our payloads fly on a variety of satellites. Sometimes we design, build, and operate the entire spacecraft, such as FORTE and the Cibola Flight Experiment, and other times we execute the mission in close partnerships with other agencies and laboratories.
Los Alamos' ability to take on complex, multidisciplinary challenges—of not saying no when everyone else has said no—is part of what makes us who we are. This ability is key to our space-related efforts.
From the earliest days of space flight we have played a leading role. From the first nuclear nonproliferation satellites, Vela Hotel, to the modern Global Positioning System (GPS) satellites carrying advanced detectors, Los Alamos space sensors and space systems have flown far and wide. These and other space sensors collect data from the far reaches of the universe—indeed, a LANL-led team for the Interstellar Boundary Explorer (IBEX) gathered data from the greatest distance from Earth ever performed. The analysis of these data redefined the science community's thinking on interstellar interactions.
Our mission of reducing global threats is perhaps nowhere more clearly understood than in the laboratories and high bays in which equipment destined for space is painstakingly pieced together.
The ability to design devices that can spend their operational lifetime thousands of miles from a human hand, devices that survive the rigors of a vibration-laden launch, space travel, and deployment, is a rare skill set. Helping those devices provide national and international security from their distant perch is a daunting mission. And yet, it is one we achieve with regularity.
Principal Associate Director for Global Security