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Dean David Hahn and Mr. Riki Ellison signing the MOU between The University of Arizona and MDAA. October 19, 2023

In a landmark collaboration on October 19th, the Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance and the University of Arizona have taken a significant step forward in shaping the future of near-space studies. On October 19th, they formalized their commitment by signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to establish Arizona Near Space Studies Institute (ANSSI). This groundbreaking program represents a response to the challenges facing our World Order and seeks to prepare future leaders to excel in the realm of Near Space Domain Awareness.

During a time of great challenges to our World Order, this program will instruct future leaders to Dominate Near Space Domain Awareness through tracking, sensing and discrimination, fire control communications, and while providing R&D for areas such as High-altitude balloons, Quantum communication and networking, and collaborated space domain awareness. 

“This university with this program can lead not only our nation, but the world in this specific area of airspace research and study to make our nation safer and our world safer”

  • Mr. Riki Ellison, Founder and Chairman of MDAA, October 19, 2023

ANSSI features state-of-the-art research facilities and faculty including the Applied Research Center, $20M+ Mechanical/Aerospace Research Lab with two hypersonic wind tunnels, a Deep Space Environment Vacuum Chamber, 3D printers, a Balloon Mission Integration Lab, and over $35 million invested in the Operational Imaging Research Lab. ANSSI looks to achieve advancements in areas such as strategic/low cost dirigible platforms for rapid deployment and integration with overhead persistent passive sensors, cutting-edge aerostat and power design for longer dwell time, quantum communication, and Directed Energy applications. Utilizing existing expertise in Hypersonic research to cover target tracking and discrimination, Mach 5 aerodynamic design and material science opportunities, efficiency for air-breathing concepts, and cost reduction through innovative approaches.

AETOS (Air Engineering To Space) is an engineering certificate program that will be hosted at the University of Arizona, leveraging its state-of-the-art facilities and world-class faculty to advance research and development of a wide variety of near-space (~80,000 feet and below) platforms and technologies. This range has a wide variety of utility from experimental platforms, command and control systems, quantum computing, photon communications, and negation platforms. 

“The research opportunities are endless, but they certainly involve balloon based sensing platforms, which offer a relatively low cost and widely distributed assets to look down at the Earth. If one thinks about National Security applications, command and control—particularly if we lose space based assets early warning,—or missile attacks, including hypersonic and incoming missiles, are all opened up to that space. Then we can go well beyond national security to look at applications from climate change monitoring to meteorology. We’ve had plans to even do some quantum networking through balloon based systems to do this at scale with the tangled photon exchange. So lots of opportunities under refund. From the research problem that we’re pretty excited about exploring.” 

  • Dean David Hahn, College of Engineering, University of Arizona, October 19, 2023

“Opportunities for this cooperation are many…We really look forward to partnering with Riki and his Youth Impact Program to encourage young students to pursue STEM education. This is highly aligned with our land grant mission, the expansion of the College of Engineering and what we offer. We really want to focus on schools where the students have historically been underrepresented in STEM. So we really look forward to engaging in outreach and I’m predicting next Summer Arizona stadium, we’re going to launch balloons with the Youth Impact kids.”

  • Dean David Hahn, College of Engineering, University of Arizona, October 19, 2023

“This program also supplements Our Youth Impact program, which we have held here for three years at the University of Arizona, a social change program for sixth, seventh, and eighth grade children in Tucson. To bring them onto the land grant university with the US military, which is Davis Monthan in this case. And with your student athletes and provide an academic experience and introduce engineering.”

  • Mr. Riki Ellison, Founder and Chairman of MDAA, October 19, 2023

MDAA has led the way in advocating for the development and investment in the missile defense enterprise on a number of fronts. From advocacy for overhead persistent sensors, to pushing for clarity on the Missile Defense of the United States Homeland, Guam, EUCOM, CENTCOM and so many other forward operating areas – if there is an important junction in detecting, defending, and defeating missile threats to the homeland then MDAA has been there. AETOS will be able to lay a foundation for increasing research funding, and technical education programming in the near-space domain.

“Persistence and sensing matters, regardless of how that sensing is provided. That is not just from land, sea, air or space singularly. I think it’s a combination of all of that. I believe there is an elevated sensing requirement to be provided. Especially environments where you’re much more distributed and you have much more battle space and you face a range of threats that provide much more complexity and also less time to react. Persistent overhead sensing matters. What you call it, how it’s developed, how it’s determined, those are all things in the art of the possible and the art of technology and the art of resourcing.”

  • Major General Brian W. Gibson, Commanding General 94th Air and Missile Defense Command, “Building Missile Defense Capacity with Urgency” October 26, 2023 

“I think we on the acquisition core side of the house from an engineering perspective, have to do better in engineering and creating solutions that are robust enough to withstand forces with the environment that are going to be challenging, i.e. high winds and things in remote locations, even enemy threat aircraft that might try to attack it. None of these weapons were meant to be an end-all, be-all silver bullet all in and by themselves. They work as a part of an architecture to be effective. But I do think that there is a place for an aerial netted sensor capability. We have to design it properly.”

  • Brigadier General Frank Lozano, Army Program Executive Officer Missiles and Space, “Building Missile Defense Capacity with Urgency” October 26, 2023 

“This university, with this program, can lead not only our nation, but the world in this specific area of near-space research and study. To make our nation safer and our world safer, so it’s wonderful. Time is everything. We wish this stuff didn’t happen in Ukraine or Israel, but that has happened and we’ve got to prevent that from happening and spiraling out of control. This is a program that can help do that, and connect it at your highest level. All the way down to fifth, sixth, seventh, and eighth graders to get involved with and to have the University of Arizona be the centerpiece and be that.”

  • Dean David Hahn, College of Engineering, University of Arizona, October 19, 2023

“We’re in a situation now… You can’t not have a defense, and we’ve gotten away with it because of nuclear deterrence. But those days, I believe, have gone… We’ve chosen to invest in offense. I’m a Super Bowl champion. We won those things on Defense.”

  • Mr. Riki Ellison, Founder and Chairman of MDAA, October 19, 2023

Click here to get in contact about AETOS

Click here to learn more about the Arizona Youth Impact Program

Click here to learn more about our Virtual Event: Building Missile Defense Capacity with Urgency 

News on ANSSI:

Mission Statement

MDAA’s mission is to make the world safer by advocating for the development and deployment of missile defense systems to defend the United States, its armed forces and its allies against missile threats.

MDAA is the only organization in existence whose primary mission is to educate the American public about missile defense issues and to recruit, organize, and mobilize proponents to advocate for the critical need of missile defense. We are a non-partisan membership-based and membership-funded organization that does not advocate on behalf of any specific system, technology, architecture or entity.