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The year in review – highlights from 2012

By: pgraziani
Well, it was a spectacular year for the space and defense communities, and AGI had some pretty fantastic accomplishments, too. We were really excited to release Systems Tool Kit 10 in November, because we hope that by making our 3D free, the software will gain even wider adoption. So far, so good! The end of the year also brought exciting news on the program front, with our commercially available products being acquired for the MDA’s C2BMC training program and the U.S. Air Force’s Joint Space Operations Center Mission System (JMS). If you’ve ever met me, you’ll know I’m a bit of a talker, so I was told to keep this short and sweet. Here goes with my top 10 highlights of 2012. AvWeek Laureate Award for Workforce Excellence: Normally I would not start a list with a personal recognition, but I really think of this as a company award (plus, this list is chronological). Every single person here contributes to making AGI an innovative and fun workplace, and in fact, it is quite often the employees who suggest new ways we can broaden our commitment to STEM education. So this one had to make the list. Space Data Association grows:  The Space Data Association, a collective of worldwide satellite operators that created the Space Data Center designed and operated by AGI, was honored by the World Space Risk Forum and the Society of Satellite Professionals International (SSPI) in March. The SDC provides full conjunction assessment (CA) capability and is developing data-sharing in support of radio frequency interference (RFI) mitigation. This year, both NOAA and NASA signed on to use the SDA’s services. Really cool stuff. North Korea launches: In April, North Korea launched an Unha-3 long-range rocket, which failed shortly after takeoff. As always, our engineers and video team used STK to create animations pre- and post-launch to show the projected and actual path. As Rocket Girl explains, this is very easy to do when you combine STK’s capabilities with publically available information. Exactly eight months later, North Korea launched an Unha-3 again. Legends lost: We lost some legends this year. There are probably more to mention, but I wanted to note three that struck home for us. Without Sally Ride, we probably would not have the incredible female engineers at AGI that we do. She proliferated interest in space among women, and for that, we are truly grateful. No matter who you are, you know the name Neil Armstrong. His giant leap will be forever inspiring us to keep exploring. Last, but in no way least, was the passing of Pete Rustan. A good friend of AGI, Pete had an incredible career with the Air Force and was an advocate for bold, quantum changes, even those that resulted in failure. These legends will be greatly missed, but thankfully, their impact remains all around us. Radiation Belt Storm Probes: The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab (JHUAPL) works on some incredible space missions, and 2012 saw yet another neat one. The Radiation Belt Storm Probes (RBSP) mission is already providing key insights into the radiation belts around Earth. JHUAPL used STK, Astrogator and ODTK to design and plan the mission, and is using it in operations, too. Their engineers became proficient with the software through its use in the flight dynamics systems for NEAR, MESSENGER, New Horizons and STEREO.  CSSI scientist contributions: We have a small research arm based in Colorado Springs—the Center for Space Standards & Innovation (CSSI)—that houses five of the brightest minds in the industry. This year, Dr. Sal Alfano was named an AAS Fellow and earned a patent for coming up with a method for assessing conjunction risk. Dr. David Finkleman was elected to the International Academy of Astronautics. With this election comes the honorific, Academician. Congrats to both on these awesome achievements! New faces at AGI: We were really excited to bring on two esteemed industry colleagues this year, Ron Thompson and Jeff DeTroye. Col Ronald Thompson, Jr., USAF, Retired, was the former chief of the U.S. Air Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center’s (SMC’s) Space Situational Awareness (SSA) Division and is now AGI’s vice president of business development for strategic projects. Jeff DeTroye comes to us from the NRO ADF-East (by way of the CIA). Jeff will bring his vast experience to AGI as our vice president of special programs.
C2BMC and JMS: Christmas came early at AGI, with our software selected for the Missile Defense Agency’s Command, Control, Battle Management and Communications (C2BMC) training program and the Joint Space Operations Center (JSpOC) Mission System (JMS). We are thrilled that our commercial capabilities will help get these programs to market faster, with less risk and less cost. STK 10! There is so much to say about STK 10, and Frank really said it best in his blog series. So I’ll leave it at this: it’s free, it’s easily downloadable and it’s better than ever. If you’re not part of the STK user community yet, please, join us now. And let us know what you think. We love to hear from our users. Tracking Santa with NORAD: In 2012, we got back into Santa tracking with NORAD, and are proud to say it was one of the most successful years ever. The 3D tracker used Cesium, an open-source web-based visualization engine developed by AGI engineers that lets you interact with the globe by panning and zooming as Santa makes his annual trek. We hope Santa believers of all ages enjoyed our technology!  In all, it was a fantastic 2012. We are looking forward to an even more terrific 2013. Happy New Year!
Posted: 12/28/2012 2:42:20 PM