Space Force to bring data scientists, coders on board this summer
The military’s newest service branch is in the final stages of selecting a group of tech-forward personnel.
The Space Force plans to bring several tech specialists into its fold this summer, including data scientists and software developers, according to a top space official.
Gen. John Raymond, the chief of U.S. space operations, told senators Tuesday the service is largely recruiting talent in science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields as well as experts in space’s “data domain.”
“Space is a data domain. You don't experience the domain unless you're an astronaut in person. You experience that through data. So we're looking at software coders, we're looking at data scientists,” Raymond testified during a May 3 Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on the 2023 Air Force budget proposal.
Raymond said the Space Force has been successfully recruiting talent, particularly from the private sector.
“We have more people knocking on our door than we can take,” the general said. “One interesting point is we've had 400 folks from industry apply to us. They transfer in laterally from industry … So we're getting a lot of great talent—STEM, software, data.”
Officials pruned the pool to about 45 applicants and six personnel will be brought on this summer, he said.
“We're having equal success in both—recruiting both civilians and military. There are physical requirements on the military side, obviously, that are different than the civilians. And in fact, we have had some that haven't been able to get into the service physically and we've given them civilian jobs.”
The Space Force plans to forgo its annual physical fitness test and instead promote more holistic physical and mental wellness through a three-part program with an educational portion that incentivizes “continuous fitness across the year rather than an episodic one time of year test and using data to be able to help support that,” Raymond said.
As Space Force staffs up, Raymond estimates a near-even split between civilian and military for its approximately 14,000-person force. The service’s focus on cyber specialists and an overall “digital workforce” comes amid proliferating threats to space systems and increasing lawmaker concerns around related cyber risks.
When Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D - N.Y.) asked whether the Space Force would consider sending cadets to a proposed cyber and digital services academy designed to help the federal government meet its cybersecurity needs, Raymond said he’d be “really interested” should it “materialize.”
“Cybersecurity on the space side is really important to us. It's an area that we put a lot of focus on,” Raymond said.
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