United States Air Force Space Command, Peterson Air Force Base
This was one of the most interesting visits for me, even though it consisted primarily of powerpoint rather than tours. I had learned about military space policy during my first year studying space policy, but I had never had the opportunity to see the policies presented by the people who develop and work with them. It was really interesting to get their perspective on whether space is contested - i.e. do we need the capability to fight in space, and on the concept of space superiority and space control - what those terms mean and how they're interpreted by others. There was an overview of Space Law that I enjoyed, mostly because the level of familiarity confirmed to me that I really had learned a lot in my Space Law class at GW.
United States Air Force Academy (USAFA)
The second half of our first day, we went around USAFA, saw the campus and engineering buildings, and learned about their curriculum. As part of their undergraduate education, the astro majors actually get to participate in the design, build, and launch of a satellite - Falconsat. It seemed like a very cool way to get hands-on experience. The USAFA visit was also really interested because a couple good friends in the Space Policy program attended the academy and had lots to tell us about what life was like there. All of that was very new to me, and really interesting to hear about - though it's still hard to imagine since it's so different from my undergraduate experience.
Lockheed Martin Space Systems and Technologies
While in Colorado, we visited Lockheed Martin in Denver. Again, we learned about the organization of the company and went on a tour of the facilities - visiting the high bay and seeing some satellites. Lockheed had just won the GPS III contract and had a big banner congratulating the proposal team. One of the speakers was from United Launch Alliance - a joint venture between Lockheed and Boeing that launches both Delta and Atlas rockets. He was a great speaker and gave a lot of insight into the industry and the relationship among the various aerospace companies. He expressed skepticism about the ability of SpaceX to live up to its image, which seemed to be very representative of the opinion of experienced launch experts. Over lunch we ate in small groups, which gave us more opportunity to talk to people from the company and ask questions.
After visiting Lockheed, we went to Boulder, CO and visited Ball Aerospace. This was one of the smaller aerospace companies we visited, and it was interesting to get their perspective on the industry, since they are rarely the prime on big contracts, but rather specialize in components. They showed us their labs and high bay and told us about their organization as well.
While we were in Colorado, we had a bit more time to see things and were starting to get to know each other better, so we had a lot of fun. We went for dinner and drinks around Colorado Springs a few times, had dinner at the Pearl Street Mall (an outdoor walking area) in Boulder, and spent a lot of timing just hanging out and discussing. We also climbed Eagles Peak - a mountain near USAFA.Eagles Peak