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First Space Test Fundamentals course begins in January

U.S. Air Force Test Pilot School

The U.S. Air Force Test Pilot School is where the Air Force's top pilots, navigators and engineers learn how to conduct flight test and generate the data needed to carry out test missions. The school is located at Edwards Air Force Base, California. (U.S. Air Force photo/412th Test Wing Public Affairs)


The U.S. Air Force Test Pilot School convenes the first-ever Space Test Fundamentals course Jan. 4, 2021. The selection board results were announced Dec. 10.

“This important milestone would not have been possible without the vision of U.S. Space Force leaders.  The value of agile, disciplined test and evaluation spans all domains, which is why the Air Force Test Pilot School has developed this unique test fundamentals course for space professionals,” said Maj. Gen. Christopher Azzano, Air Force Test Center commander.

Out of 165 applicants, only 45 students were selected to fill out the three course offerings in 2021, with 15 students chosen per course.

“This course is critical to the development of USSF test professionals and will enable them to lead and conduct full spectrum test and evaluation of systems operating across the space domain,” said Col. Sebrina Pabon, TPS commandant.

This three-month program leverages world-class USAF TPS expertise, designed to provide hands-on training in flight test fundamentals, systems test, space science application, advanced space system test and evaluation, and broad exposure to the foremost centers of space operations and testing.

“The STF course will help enhance a professional test workforce in the space domain through common education and a basic toolset.  In addition to the classroom and hands-on learning, we hope to impress upon the students the importance of a test and engineering mindset,” said Dr. Andrew Freeborn, a USAF TPS flight test instructor pilot.   

The course culminates in a two-week realistic capstone exercise to evaluate student’s knowledge. 

“The final capstone project pulls elements together as the students build a test plan, execute a test, analyze the results, and provide a report—which is ultimately the product that we, as testers, provide to our customers and warfighters,” said Freeborn, who manages the STF course.

The course creates a common training and education baseline for space testers.

“Having a well-trained and skilled test and engineering workforce is central to the USSF delivering effective and resilient combat capabilities to and from space,” said Col. Nick Hague, USSF Test and Evaluation director.

The course enables the USSF to enhance its test and evaluation mission and multiply its ability to deliver combat-ready space forces.

“This course is a critical step in training the space test professionals we need – operators, engineers, and acquisition test managers with the knowledge and experience necessary to transform test for the future,” said Hague, a NASA astronaut.

The students form the initial cadre of USSF space test professionals and represent a new era in space test and evaluation.

“Congratulations to the inaugural STF Course selectees.  You are an important part of test history, and we’re counting on you to help make Joint All-Domain Operations a reality for the American warfighter.  You should be proud!” said Azzano.

The “Beta” STF course 21-1 is scheduled to begin Jan. 4, 2021 and graduate April 2, 2021.