Cecil Ashburn Drive project to begin Jan. 7


The City of Huntsville is set to begin critical roadwork in early January to improve safety and increase capacity on Cecil Ashburn Drive, one of the city’s most heavily trafficked corridors.

Listed as a priority improvement project in Huntsville’s “Restore Our Roads” agreement with the Alabama Department of Transportation, contractors will widen Cecil Ashburn Drive from two to four lanes over an 18-month period.

To expedite construction and shorten the project’s timeline, Cecil Ashburn Drive will close Jan. 7, and the contractor will be incentivized to reopen two lanes of traffic within 10 months. Remaining work is expected to be complete six to eight months later with all lanes open by May 2020.

To keep the project on track or ahead of schedule, the contractor may earn up to $2 million in performance bonuses. Conversely, the builder will be financially penalized up to $2 million for schedule delays. This is the same model the City and State used to fast-track overpass construction on South Memorial Parkway, another Restore Our Roads project.

“We changed the scope of the project to save time and money and to minimize the impact on our residents and businesses,” said Mayor Tommy Battle. “This schedule provides the least disruption and gets motorists safely back on the road before the 2019 holiday season.”

The base bid on the revised project came in at just under $18 million, nearly $7 million less than a previous round of bidding last May. At that time, the city was working on a construction plan to keep one lane of traffic partially open during peak weekday hours. The plan proved to be a costly, 32-month ordeal that posed additional safety concerns. City engineers went back to the drawing board and believe the new schedule best addresses the needs and concerns of the community.

“We’re saving taxpayers millions of dollars and cutting two years of public pain in the construction process,” said Shane Davis, director of Economic and Urban Development.

To further minimize disruptions for commuters impacted by the road closure, City departments have been working closely with community organizations and businesses to address needs and concerns related to increased traffic and speeders on alternate routes, ride-sharing options, moving wrecks, accident alerts, and public safety.

“It will take everyone a few weeks to adjust to new routes and schedules, and we’ve found many businesses are pwilling to offer flex time to help their employees through the transition,” said Dennis Madsen, long-range planner. “We’ve had a lot of inquiries about carpools and ride-sharing programs, and the road closure presents an opportunity to explore these options and create some new healthy habits.”

Huntsville to Launch Mobile and Credit Card Downtown Parking Payments

The city has plans to make it easier to pay for parking in downtown Huntsville. (USNews.com)

Huntsville’s high-tech expertise takes a leap into downtown parking.

The city is adopting new technologies to make it easier for patrons to pay for parking with a smartphone and credit card. Early next year, about 400 parking spaces, including those with coin-operated meters, will be updated for easy pay by smartphone and credit card options.

This will enable users to:

  • Monitor their parking sessions
  • Extend time remotely
  • View payment history
  • Receive email receipts

“We want to make it easier for customers to pay for parking and to extend their time without the hassle of returning to a meter,” said Tommy Brown, director of Parking and Public Transit. “You can be in a meeting that is running late and add more time to your parking meter using your cell phone.”

While a coin/bill pay option will still be available when paying to park downtown, Mayor Tommy Battle said the new meter system will make it more convenient for residents and guests to enjoy Huntsville’s downtown.

“People expect to have the ease of mobile apps and credit card options when they purchase a good or service, and parking meters are no exception,” he said. “This is just one more step in the City’s effort to modernize our business practices and make us user friendly.”

Parking and Public Transit plans to begin installing the new meters around Big Spring Park and Lot H, which adjoins The Avenue.

IOS, Android and mobile web apps allow motorists to park at traditional meters without needing coins. Parkers establish a minimum $5 wallet on the app with their credit card and pay for parking from that wallet. They will enter their license plate when they park and enforcement will use the license plate to determine who has paid to park.

Drivers will receive reminder notifications, email receipts and remote session extensions that allow them to extend their parking without going back to the meter.

A single multispace meter will service parking spaces so there are fewer meters to maintain. Drivers will enter their license plate when they park and enforcement will use the license plate to determine who has paid to park. The meters allow for more flexible forms of payment such as coins, bills and credit cards.

Drivers will be able to receive parking expiry reminders and to extend time via mobile phone using the integrated Extend-by-Phone service. PassportParking is free to download through the App Store or Google Play. Users can also manage their parking at ppprk.com. The app is also available in many cities nationwide.

Downtown Huntsville honored by international group

Downtown Huntsville was awarded a Certificate of Merit Award for the Spragins Street Greenway and Cycle Track Connector.

SAN ANTONIO, Texas — Downtown Huntsville Inc. was awarded a Certificate of Merit Award for the Spragins Street Greenway and Cycle Track Connector by the International Downtown Association.

The project was awarded a Certificate of Merit in the category of Planning during the IDA’s 64th annual conference and trade show.

This category features planning efforts that have established a strategic position for downtown, and that include elements of the plan that have already been approved, ratified, and implemented.

“The Spragins Connector creates an important bicycle link between two popular downtown parks – Big Spring Park East and Depot Park.  By making this connection, over 3 miles of pedestrian and bike infrastructure are linked,” said Chad Emerson, president/CEO of Downtown Huntsville Inc. “We’re grateful that our partners at the city of Huntsville implemented this key first step of the Downtown Master Plan Update.”

Washington, D.C.-based IDA is the premier organization for urban place professionals who are shaping and activating dynamic city center districts. Downtown Huntsville, Inc is the urban place management organization representing the interests of property owners in Huntsville. 

“Downtown Huntsville’s project received the IDA Certificate of Merit for successfully employing best practice in urban place management,” said David Downey, IDA president/CEO. “The Spragins Greenway and Track Connector is a shining example of downtown management delivering real value to the city.”

Mayor: ‘No better time to live in Huntsville’


Calling it a “day of celebration,” Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle reeled off a list of successes the city accomplished over the last few years.

“What started 10 years ago began as a vision,” he said. “Then a plan.”

“You are the reason we are stronger then ever,” he told the audience of some 1,200 people at Tuesday’s annual State of the City Address in the Von Braun Center North Hall. It was the largest crowd at a Huntsville Chamber event.

The mayor cited the city’s population growth, which is twice the national rate; and some 25,000 jobs created since 2010 – “We lead the state in job creation.”

Not to mention, the domestic GDP is up 15 percent, fueled by major economic development. Included in the development are major companies moving here: Mazda-Toyota; Google; Facebook; General Electric; Blue Origin, among others.

“There’s no better time to live in Huntsville, Alabama,” Battle said.

Huntsville has had a Triple-A bond rating for 10 straight years; 91 percent of the children attend Huntsville City Schools; Cummings Research Park – “a shining example of public-private partnership”- has a 91 percent occupancy rate; Redstone Arsenal is continuing to grow as it adds more agencies and provides some $50 billion in spending.

“We’re not just growing as an economy,” Battle said. “We’re growing opportunity.”

And the city is not resting on the laurels of those successes.

Tapped to be the largest city in the state within the next decade, Huntsville needs to stay at the economic forefront to “stay relevant to the future,” Battle said.

“The next five to 10 years are taken care of,” he said. “Our job is to take care of the next 15, 20, 30 years.

“We are making sure we’re not the community left behind.”

The mayor said the city’s task is to find the new, emerging markets.

“Pushing the edge is what Huntsville does … we’ve always been the innovators and creators.”

And he closed on an optimistic note that was greeted with a standing ovation:

“Huntsville’s future as the ‘Star of Alabama’ is brighter than ever.”


FBI to expand presence on Redstone Arsenal

Pictured is the FBI’s Hazardous Devices School on Redstone Arsenal


Huntsville’s moniker as “the Federal City of the South” was further bolstered Thursday with the announcement of a planned FBI expansion.

The FBI, which has about 300 personnel stationed at Redstone Arsenal, will add another 1,350 employees, according to the agency’s senior executive at Redstone, Robert Hamilton. The personnel will come from the Washington area.

Hamilton made the announcement at the annual Redstone Update, hosted by the Huntsville-Madison County Chamber.

“The FBI is extremely excited to announce today that we are moving forward with our first large-scale operations support building,” Hamilton said. “We expect that to be ready for occupancy in early 2021. This will move approximately 1,350 personnel and contractors from the national capital region.”
Hamilton said the personnel will include special agents and intelligence analysts.
“This is not a relocation of resources but rather a transformation of mission sets to one extremely powerful campus,” Hamilton said.

Huntsville’s Business Environment Embraces Veterans

Huntsville is a well-known destination for retiring veterans who want to do business with the government.

In 1992, Rosalyn Thompson-Blackwell and Roderick Herron met during 14 weeks of Officer’s Training at Fort Benning, Ga.

Thompson-Blackwell, president and CEO of Huntsville’s Mb Solutions, had worked as a project manager and acquisitions officer in the Army, stationed in Colorado Springs, Colo. She often came to Huntsville on Temporary Duty because her brother was stationed at Redstone Arsenal.

When she retired from the Army as a lieutenant colonel after 24 years of service, she wanted to start a business that supplied services to the Department of Defense. There was no hesitation about where she would go.

Herron, executive vice president of Mb Solutions, had his college business degree but was deeply in debt. Three years in the Army was the quickest means for paying it off. Twenty-six years later, he found his greater purpose.

When he retired, also as a lieutenant colonel, he made a career decision based on Redstone being the closest military installation to his hometown of Grenada, Miss.

Huntsville is the ‘Pentagon South’ 

“For Army veterans, Huntsville is known as the ‘Pentagon South,’” said Rich McAdams, president of Ignite, a certified Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business government contractor headquartered in Huntsville. “So much Army acquisition work is done here, it is said that if an Army soldier writes it, shoots it, eats it, drinks it, or consumes it, the Army Materiel Command in Huntsville buys it.

“AMC has an annual budget of $147 billion a year, so you can see why Huntsville is so well-known and highly regarded among veterans, and especially those interested in doing business with the government or military.”

The Challenges of Starting a Veteran-owned Business

Initially, Thompson-Blackwell went to work for People-Tec, a Huntsville contractor which specializes in diversified engineering, modeling and simulation, cybersecurity, rapid prototyping, and program support.

“I had received programmatic and engineering services and knew the military structure and the acquisition process,” she says. “I did not know the business from the contractor’s perspective, so People-Tec mentored me even though they knew I wanted to go into business for myself. They showed me how to cost out contracts and how to manage contracts.”

In 2016, Thompson-Blackwell and Herron opened Mb Solutions together.

“It’s not as easy as it may seem,” says Herron. “It takes a lot of work, a lot of knowledge, the right connections, and many blessings. Sometimes the difference between success and failure is luck!”

“We call it procurement-ready,” says Mary Jane Fleming, Procurement Advisor and VA Certified Verification Advisor at the Small Business Development Center and Procurement Technical Assistance Center. “If you want to do business with the government or team up with large companies, we help you understand the business processes.”

“We went through a lot of growing pains, but we used it to our advantage,” says Thompson-Blackwell. “This is where a military background is important. We used that time to set up operating procedures, write policies, and set up an accounting system. We figured out how our company could be beneficial to veterans with benefits and policies that align with that philosophy. We didn’t waste any of that time.”

According to Foster Perry, director of the SBDC, “This is a military town; Veterans own a lot of businesses here and they hire a lot of veterans. The military has its own culture, so if they can bring someone in who knows that culture, it is a benefit.”

Veterans Make the Best Employees

“I admit I am biased when it comes to veterans,” says McAdams with Ignite. “I am biased for business reasons. Vets make great employees.

“At a young age in the Army, you are given a lot of responsibility. At 22 you might be a section leader in charge of five or six soldiers or a squad leader in charge of 10 or 11 soldiers. If you are in Afghanistan, you are going door-to-door looking for bad guys and making life or death decisions. At 26 years old, you can have 100 people working for you and be responsible for over $100 million worth of equipment. Veterans have maturity and judgement way beyond that of a civian peer.”

Herron and Thompson-Blackwell agree.

“We have been on the other side and have a passion for what we do,” said Thompson-Blackwell. “We know the needs of the kids – the soldiers who are still out there on the front lines.

“If I can provide something to make their life easier or that could save one American child’s life, it’s worthwhile.”

“I think once you have done 24 to 26 years of service, it becomes part of who you are,” said Herron. “That service spirit is embedded in you and you still want to be part of it in some way.

“Providing support to the government is like being a part of something bigger than you.”

McAdams said a key to hiring veterans is their strong work ethic.

“If I have two candidates, all things being equal, but one is a veteran,” he said. “I will hire the vet in a heartbeat because of their work ethic, maturity and judgement.”


Midway Through the Mission: Making Huntsville a Gig City

If it hasn’t already, the Google van may be coming soon to your neighborhood.

Huntsville has never been the kind of place to wait around for technology to make its way here.

Sure, in many ways, Huntsville is still a traditional Southern city with long, hot, sultry summers and a penchant for football rivalries and ice-cold beer.

But make no mistake – Huntsville’s pluck and grit is writ in rocket flames. Never mistake a slow way of talking for short-sighted vision.

That was made clear back in 2012 when Google Fiber sent out its initial call to cities across the nation, interested in partnering with the technology giant to build a high-tech fiber network worthy of bringing gigabit internet service and Voice-over IP telephone services to the Tennessee Valley.

When all the entrants, including Huntsville, were thrown into the hat and a select few cities were chosen, Huntsville wasn’t among them.

Oh well.

If in 1956, the Redstone Testing Center had given up the first time a missile disintegrated on a test stand, Malawi may have put men into space before Huntsville!

According to Lauren Johannesmeyer, city manager for Google Fiber, Huntsville city leaders know something about executing a mission and Harrison Diamond, then the director of project management at the Huntsville/Madison Chamber of Commerce, was on a mission.

“I remember back as early as 2013, Harrison (now the business relations officer for the City of Huntsville), had a vision for what a gig city looks like,” said Johannesmeyer. “Between the Chamber of Commerce, Huntsville, and Huntsville Utilities, they basically said, ‘We’re going to build the network anyway’.

“Once that was established, Google Fiber came back and said, ‘If you are going to build it anyway, can we lease it from you?’”

That initiative makes Huntsville a one-of-a-kind model for Google Fiber, the only city in the country where a utility company is constructing the network rather than Google Fiber.

“Huntsville may be the first, but we won’t be the last to make this investment,” said Joe Gerhdes, director of communications and public relations for Huntsville Utilities. “Huntsville has drawn the interest of utility companies in many cities across the country who are looking at doing the same. They are watching to see how successful we are.”


Rings & Huts

Huntsville Utilities is just short of midway through the build and right on schedule.

Construction consists of a fiber ring that encircles Huntsville to make it easy to branch service off into neighborhoods. The ring is divided into six fiber huts off which Huntsville Utilities connects the local Google Fiber network into the Internet backbone and the worldwide web.

“Huntsville Utilities manages and maintains the core ring that wraps around the City, and Google Fiber owns and manages the network from the point of access at the street, up to the customers house or business,” Johannesmeyer said. “Right now, in terms of serviceable areas for us, there is what I call a pizza slice-shaped section in north Huntsville. It was our very first opening on May 23, 2017.

“We also have all of Big Cove and Hampton Cove from Dug Hill Road to Cecil Ashburn Drive, and we are opening areas in south Huntsville near Mountain Gap and Challenger schools.”

Gerhdes added, “We started with the Chase Hut north of Winchester Road to Pulaski Pike because the Chase area power distribution center in northeast Huntsville was a great place to start.

“Big Cove and Hampton Cove are finished, and we are currently working on the Farley Hut in south Huntsville.”

He said the Triana Hut will service most of the core of downtown Huntsville including Blossomwood, and the utility is readying the 911 Hut near the Madison County 911 Center and Wynn Drive. The final construct will be the Jetport Hut at the western edge of Huntsville. The entire fiber network project is scheduled for completion in 2020.



Everyone Benefits From Improved Infrastructure

“This undertaking has been great for Huntsville, but it has also been great for telecoms and cable providers, too, because it has significantly improved the infrastructure under which all of these providers offer services,” Gerhdes said. “They too can now offer a better, more affordable service to their customers.”

Construction is always subject to change with many variables impacting schedules, but Google Fiber’s current contract with Huntsville Utilities is to service addresses they turn over to them as the ring expands within the Huntsville city limits. The lease agreement is not exclusive so other companies can lease out fiber on that ring as well.

In terms of what Google Fiber has to offer customers, its services include 100 MB or 1,000 MB (gigabit) fast residential internet options; traditional television services with 220+ channels that can be combined with their internet offering and Wi-Fi extenders; and a Voice-over IP (VoIP) phone service solution that uses the internet rather than traditional hardwired landlines.

Currently service to multifamily units (apartment complexes and condominiums) is minima but, ideally, Google Fiber wants to service as many people as possible so, as the ring grows, so will Google Fiber access.

“We also offer small and medium-size business gig packages with really cool extras businesses need to be successful,” said Johannesmeyer.

Community Involvement vital

She said community involvement is vital to promoting digital inclusion initiatives and education that provide groups and individuals with access to information and communication technologies. Google Fiber’s Community Impact Team works with local nonprofits to promote digital inclusion throughout the Tennessee Valley.

One of those enterprises is the Digital Inclusion Fund, created at the Community Foundation with sponsorship funding from Google Fiber to make Internet access and digital education available to residents currently without access to those resources. More than $100,000 in grant money was given to high-impact programs in North Alabama this past year.

“Ours is a very innovative model and we applaud Huntsville Utilities for their leadership,” said Johannesmeyer.

While the mission to make Huntsville a Gig City cannot yet be stamped “accomplished” – it is certainly in full rattle-battle!

To find out if Google Fiber is available in your neighborhood or business location, visit https://fiber.google.com/cities/huntsville/. You may also submit your email address to be notified when it is available.

Sen. Shelby announces $29.1M grant for Huntsville International Airport


A $29.1 million federal grant will be used to build another taxiway at Huntsville International Airport. The grant was announced by U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby.

“The city of Huntsville is growing at a rapid pace,” Shelby said. “This new taxiway will allow for increased accessibility and efficiency for air traffic to and from North Alabama. Additionally, the funding will play a vital role in enhancing economic development throughout the region.

“As Huntsville continues to attract more business, it is essential that the city and surrounding area improve and modernize local infrastructure in order to meet the demands of its booming economy.”

The construction of a 4,600-foot taxiway will provide access to airport property that can accommodate building nearly a dozen 747-9 parking positions, as well as more than 600,000 square feet of hangar space – more than doubling the airport’s current cargo capacity.

“The funds … will impact our facility as a whole and include improvement to the Jetplex Industrial Park, International Intermodal Center and the airport, itself,” said Airport Executive Director Rick Tucker. “The announcement ensures our ability to continue economic development initiatives within our region and positively impacts our entire state.”

SMD Symposium: Technology Track to Innovation & Breakthroughs

Every year, the Space & Missile Defense Symposium chooses two topic areas pertinent to that year’s SMD focus, and they provide members of the space and missile defense community the opportunity to submit and present innovations and technical ideas.

For the program known as Technology Track, the committee sends out a call for entries several months in advance for two-page written abstracts describing the basis of their work with enough detail to allow for an evaluation of that work in the two major topic areas. This year, the committee received more than 25 submissions for which the panel chose five in the area of Cyber Resiliency, Testing, and Development; and six for Weapon System Performance Testing and Evaluation.

“These are submissions to present their work and have a discussion about that work at the conference, and not submissions for funding, so there is no ‘Big Reveal’ so-to-speak,” said Stephen Cayson, chief operating officer for CFD Research and a member of the SMD planning committee. “The topics can really run the gamut between someone wanting to present new work they have developed, and someone wanting to report on the status of something they have been working on.

“Research and development work can quickly become classified and we are working in a public forum, so we usually lean toward established work, since a lot of the new work is sensitive and often, not something that can be discussed in an open setting.”

Cayson said the committee has scoring criteria for the submissions and, sometimes, it can get very competitive.

Technology Track is a 2-day event at the 21st Annual Space and Missile Defense Symposium which runs Tuesday through Thursday at the Von Braun Center.

On Tuesday, Paul Page with the Space & Missile Defense Command presents “Cyber Hardening by Replicating and Simulating”; Yaron Shragal with Draper Labs presents “CHROME: A State of the Art System for Comprehensive, Non-intrusive Cyber Resiliency”; Rob Goldsmith of SMDC/ARSTRAT presents “Cyber Resiliency and Mission Assurance”; Denise Jefferson of Northrop Grumman presents “A Tool to Inject Credible Warfighter-focused Non-kinetic Attack Effects into the BMDS M&S Environment”; and Connor Wood and Justan Provence, also of Northrop Grumman, present “Micro-service Data Pipelines”.

“We encourage our Technology Track presenters to keep their presentation down to twenty minutes to allow for ten minutes of questions and discussion,” said Cayson. “We really have a lot of great discussions come out of these presentations.

“Technologists are an underserved class in our community and we like to give them the opportunity to get together with other professionals and give them a chance to meet others working on similar projects, to develop that network, and to learn from each other.”

Wednesday, James Buford, Gary Freeman, and David Mallett, all from the Aviation & Missile Research, Development, and Engineering Center at SMDC/ARSTRAT present “New and Improved Advanced Measurements Optical Range (AMOR) Capability for Advanced Sensing Capabilities”; and Perri Nejib of Northrop Grumman does a presentation called “Resiliency by Design, Defeating All Threats Cyber and Ballistic Missile-start Secure, Stay Secure, Return Secure”.

Phil Carey of the CMDS Project Office; Craig Burrow with Intuitive Research & Technology Corporation; and Bruce Peters from Torch Technologies present “Accelerating High Energy Laser System Capability for Air and Missile Defense”. Later that afternoon, E. Blair Carter and his team from the Aviation & Missile Research, Development, & Engineering Center present “A Simulation Toolkit for Rigorous Interceptor Design and Evaluation”; Northrop Grumman’s Connor Wood does a second presentation on “Modeling and Simulation Integration with Hardware and Software Development”; and Mike Curry with Draper Labs finishes up with “A Unified Framework for Interactive Tradespace Exploration”.


Going Hypersonic in the Back Rooms of SMD Symposium

The X-15 Hypersonic Research Program flew more than 200 flights and set unofficial world speed and altitude records. (NASA Photo)

They may not be a lead topic on the 21st Annual Space & Missile Defense Symposium agenda this week, but out in the hallways of the Von Braun Center, among exhibitors on the show floor, and over cocktails and hors d’oeuvres before every meal, people will be talking about current hypersonic missile threats from Hypersonic Glide Vehicles, sometimes referred to as Boost Glide Vehicles.

“Our near-peer adversaries and our own nation have been working on technology that will enable us, but hypersonics are not really in the mainstream of our military arsenal at this point,” said retired Air Force Brig, Gen. Kenneth Todorov, vice president of Missile Defense Solutions at Northrop Grumman Mission Systems. “They are potentially a very dangerous weapon and something that we need to take very seriously.

“The challenge for the defense industry is two-fold. One is the offensive side, that is, our nation’s capability to develop a hypersonic weapon of our own, which would help deter others from attacking us; but what will be a hot topic at SMD is the defensive hypersonic aspects we’re calling counter hypersonics.”

Todorov said that what makes hypersonic weaponry difficult for this nation’s current missile defense architecture is they fly at very fast speeds, they have very long ranges, they have maneuverability, and they are capable of looking like a traditional ballistic missile.

“A ballistic missile has a predictable trajectory and our current system can discern where an incoming missile might be headed, making it possible to intercept it or shoot it down,” he said. “A hypersonic threat could maneuver so fast and so rapidly that it outpaces our systems ability to see it, to detect it, and to intercept it.

“So that’s the real concern I think for the nation and for us as an industry as we work to come up with answers to that.”

A Quick History

Hypersonics are not new. In fact, they go back 50 years.

“We haven’t had constant focus in this area because, in the past, the U.S. was leading in that technology while, today, other countries have made breakthroughs,” said Ragini Acharya, Hypersonic Lead at CFD Research Corp. Her company is just one of several Huntsville-based companies pioneering the offensive and defensive sides of hypersonic boost glide vehicles using their expertise in modeling and simulation.

In 1967, NASA, the Air Force, Navy, and North American Aviation Inc., joined forces to create a manned hypersonic mission called the X-15 Hypersonic Research Program. Over a 10-year period, they flew more than 200 flights and set the world’s unofficial speed and altitude records flying at 354,200 feet and at more than 4,520 mph – nearly Mach 7.

The purpose of that program was to investigate all aspects of piloted hypersonic flight, which was instrumental in the development of the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo space programs, as well as the Space Shuttle program.

“The space shuttle and re-entry methods all use hypersonics,” Acharya said. “It’s not that the older work is not valid, but we just have a lot more challenges today. For instance, those missiles were rocket-powered but, today, companies like Aerojet Rocketdyne work tirelessly on different propulsion systems to replace it.

“Also, it has to be an unmanned vehicle, and we need longer duration because they went into space and came back from space, they couldn’t work in Earth’s atmosphere for very long. We need something that can operate in Earth’s atmosphere, and that can travel from one point to another. That is where most of our challenges lie.”

Todorov said there is a lot of work remaining from the anti-missile features.

“On the defensive side, there’s a lot of hard work yet to do,” he said. “A boost glide vehicle that rides a rocket into space and then re-enters the atmosphere and glides to its target at Mach 5 to Mach 10 speeds needs an answer – that is, a defensive capability to defeat them.

“It’s going to take a wide swathe of expertise across multiple disciplines to find that answer because they are so fast, so hard to detect, and they maneuver so rapidly. The first piece of the equation is, ‘Are you able to detect them?’, ‘Are you able to quickly identify them as a hypersonic threat?’, and ‘Are you able to see them not only through their launch, but through its flightpath, so that you can then affect the defensive solution and be able to counter them.”

Todorov is concerned that many people think developing an interceptor is the answer but although that is true and necessary in part, it will not be sufficient.

“It’s going to take an end-to-end solution that starts before they are launched, follows them through their launch window, and is able to detect, see, track, and monitor them,” he said. “That is likely to require a space layer.

“Whenever we talk counter-hypersonics, we really have to ask, ‘what are the assets we may already have, or that we may have to supplement in the space layer, to be able to look down and see these things – to be able to detect them?’

“In talking about counter-hypersonics, it’s much, much more than an interceptor.”

Space, huh? That Space Force idea begins to come a little bit more into focus does it not?