Standard Space Trainer (SST)


Previously, the Air Force’s (AF) 533rd Training Squadron (TRS) and the 50th Space Wing (SW) used a number of different training systems and simulators for space command and control (C2), Initial Skills Training (IST) and Unit Qualification Training (UQT). Each of these training systems, or simulators, is “stove-piped,” in that it uses different hardware, operating systems, networking capabilities, and proprietary software, and have widely divergent, often high costs associated with its development. In addition, each system has its own maintenance concept and contract for sustainment. Since many of the training systems were replicas of the operational systems, the sustainment of the training systems in this way is frequently very costly.

A summary of the AF’s space training challenges:

  • Each command and control (C2) course uses a different device for performance training
  • Most training systems are operational systems with an instructor application
  • Each training system is built to different requirements with varying levels of fidelity
  • Sustainment of multiple systems is very costly
  • Most instructors indicated they train to a specific set of vehicle problems and focus on certain data points
  • Training devices are difficult to set up and shut down
  • Some training devices do not have an instructor monitoring function
  • Some training devices do not have scenarios with pre-established anomalies
  • Some trai ning devices have no ability to pause, rewind or fast-forward


To address the space training challenges, the Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC) Space Training Acquisition Office, and Headquarters (HQ) AF AFSPC/A3T worked closely together to develop the original vision for a single Standard Space Trainer (SST) for C2 operator training that employs commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) personal computer (PC) hardware and operating systems.

The SST Architecture:

  • Uses Sonalysts’ Simulation Engine
  • Supports multiple missions
  • Supports multiple training types: initial skills, unit qualification, crew training, interdependent crew training
  • Includes hybrid of state-based modeling and physics-based modeling
  • Focuses training system development on the training goals
  • Supports the look and feel of the operational system; presents same screens and graphical user interfaces
  • Provides training features for instructors/evaluators
  • Reduces set up and shut down time to minutes
  • Provides ability to remotely view students' displays
  • Provides ability to pause, rewind, and fast forward training sessions
  • Includes pre-built scenarios for instructors/evaluators, as well as a scenario editor to modify/create scenarios
  • Includes a Software Development Kit (SDK) to allow development of new training systems that will be deployed from the SST Architecture
Quotes about Standard Space Trainer: "The experience of the 533rd Training Squadron is that required instructor manpower has been reduced significantly, while studen evaluation productivity has increased dramatically." Air Force SBIR/STTR Transition Story, WPAFB08-5259. "In a cost-conscious culture and in an effort to leverage technology to accomplish our mission and save mony, the SST stands as a fine example of the art of the possible." General Edward A. Rice, Jr. (AETC Commander) Military Training Technology Magazine, May 2012

The Air Force Audit Agency estimated that SMC had invested nearly $250 million to develop the legacy training systems, and paid as much as $9 million each year in sustainment costs, and that use of SST would reduce training acquisition costs $101 million over the next five years, as well as make significant reductions in training systems sustainment costs.

Audit Report F2011-0013-FD4000, Air Force Audit Agency, page I, paragraph 1, August 18, 2011

Sonalysts’ SST work has also contributed to numerous awards for the STAO Program Office

Images of SST Awards: SMC Commander's Small Business Team of the Year, 2008, Air Force Modeling & Simulation Acquisition Team Award, 2008, Brent Scowcroft Award at SMC level, 2013, Chief of Staff Team Excellence Award (CSTEA) at SMC level, 2013

Teamwork & Communications

The success of the SST program is due to the strength and communication of the Government/Sonalysts team.

Sonalysts applies various talents from within the company to the SST program, including project managers, instructional system designers, subject matter experts, software engineers, and software testers.

The SST Project Leader, Ms. Laura Dietz, was recognized by the Connecticut Technology Council as the 2011 Woman of Innovation for Small Business Innovation and Leadership.

Photos courtesy of the U.S. Air Force 50th Space Wing.