AFRL breaks ground on ‘fortress’ of radiation research

Executives from the Air Force Research Laboratory's Spacecraft Directorate, Army Corps of Engineers and QA Construction, LLC break ground on Nov. 27 for the Agency's new Radiation Tolerance Research facility for electronics for space and strategic systems at the Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico 16. 2022.

Executives from the Air Force Research Laboratory’s Spacecraft Directorate, Army Corps of Engineers and QA Construction, LLC break ground on Nov. 27 for the Agency’s new Radiation Tolerance Research facility for electronics for space and strategic systems at the Kirtland Air Force Base, NM Oct. 16, 2022. (Nina Rogers/US Air Force)

(Tribune News Service) – The Air Force Research Laboratory has broken ground on a facility to study how to better protect military electronics from the effects of radiation.

AFRL this week began construction of the $4.5 million Facility for Radiation Tolerance Research in Electronics for Space and Strategic Systems, or FORTRESS, a 6,200-square-foot site adjacent to the AFRL Space Vehicles Directorate Deployable Structures Laboratory on Kirtland Air Force Base in New Mexico.

There, AFRL researchers will study ways to protect “trusted, high-performance” electronic components to ensure the survivability of US Space Force and Air Force systems in harsh environments, both natural and man-made.

“Replacing a facility more than 50 years old, this new laboratory will provide a state-of-the-art structure to house and utilize our irreplaceable test equipment,” said Erin Pettyjohn, deputy director of the AFRL Directorate of Spacecraft, in a press release. “Ionizing radiation sources are essential to the development of technologies and components needed for our national security systems and nuclear deterrent systems and operations.”

About 95% of US spacecraft are made possible by electronics made or researched by this team, Pettyjohn said.

“This lab revitalization effort strengthens the United States’ supply of radiation-tolerant electronic components and accelerates the transition to the highest-performing technologies,” said Mark Roverse, director of Spacecraft Technology.

The Air Force Research Laboratory's Space Vehicles Directorate held a groundbreaking ceremony on November 16, 2022 and began construction of the Facility for Radiation Tolerance Research on Electronics for Space and Strategic Systems, or FORTRESS, a 6,200 square foot, $4.5 million facility -Dollar facility at Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico.

The Air Force Research Laboratory’s Space Vehicles Directorate held a groundbreaking ceremony on November 16, 2022 and began construction of the Facility for Radiation Tolerance Research on Electronics for Space and Strategic Systems, or FORTRESS, a 6,200 square foot, $4.5 million facility -Dollar facility at Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico. (US Air Force graphic)

The building is expected to be completed by the end of November 2023, AFRL said.

AFRL is headquartered at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.

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