Credentialing for Space


| By Jason Golden |

When it comes to our nation's presence in space, the men and women who have bravely volunteered for those missions have relied on teams on the ground for launch. In one very unique way, professionals with disabilities from Global Connections to Employment (GCE) have a role in preparing the new U.S. Space Force for operations.

GCE is a member of SourceAmerica's network of more than 600 nonprofit agencies. This network employs more than 90,000 people with disabilities nationwide, some of them through the U.S. AbilityOne® Program, which is one of the largest sources of employment in the United States for people who are blind or have significant disabilities.

Through the AbilityOne Program, the GCE Enterprise Information Technology Services credentialing team had been methodically developing the initial Space Force Common Access Card (CAC) prototypes shortly after Space Force was established in December of 2019. CACs are the identification cards the members of the military use for access to their computers, networks, healthcare, and certain secure locations. They contain special technology that must be programmed and then embedded during the manufacturing process.

When COVID-19 hit the U.S. in March, the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado announced that the Class of 2020 would graduate several months earlier than originally planned. The Academy's graduating seniors included the initial group of U.S. Space Force's newly commissioned officers. These leaders now needed their new CACs several months earlier than anticipated. The GCE team was ready to act. They were integral in not only the design and software enhancements to support the new CACs, but also processed the first batch of Space Force CACs in April 2020.

GCE Quality Assurance Team Lead John Bush III works on testing for the RAPIDS application for the CACs. RAPIDS is the technology that prints the cards for the Space Force. In addition to the standard development required to support this effort, his team has dedicated a significant amount of time and resources to rigorous integration testing. "It is very exciting and cool to follow the news of the addition of the Space Force in the news and know that I will be a part of this historic project," said Bush.

GCE has a long history of backing the U.S. Air Force with a talented workforce of people with disabilities. As the new Space Force begins its new mission in orbit and beyond, GCE looks to continue this great tradition of support for the courageous men and women in uniform – and spacesuits!

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