First Space Force guardian to be launched into space this summer

by Braxton Taylor

The first U.S. Space Force guardian will be launched into space this summer. 

“There is a guardian going into space via NASA in August,” Jerry Porter, chief of public affairs at Space Launch Delta 45, told reporters during the Space Mobility Conference.

Porter declined to discuss further details about the mission, saying that he didn’t want to get ahead of NASA’s announcement.

The August mission will see the first launch of a guardian into space—but it won’t mark the first time a Space Force officer has been in the service’s eponymous environment. That honor belongs to Col. Mike Hopkins, who was orbiting the Earth aboard the International Space Station in 2020 when he transferred from the Air Force to the Space Force. Each of the older service branches has sent multiple officers to become NASA astronauts. 

The news comes as space officials mull how to pursue on-orbit satellite refueling and repair work at the Space Mobility Conference. 

However, the Space Force isn’t planning to send guardians to do on-orbit work, Brig. Gen. Kristin Panzenhagen, the program executive officer for Space System Command’s Assured Access to Space. 

The August mission that will send a guardian to space is “not as part of our assured access to space, [space] mobility and logistics mission,” Panzenhagen said. 

Since the inception of the Space Force, the service has dismissed the idea that it would deploy troops into orbit anytime soon. The service has sent guardians on (terrestrial) missions around the world, just like the older military services. 



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