The Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs welcomes its first permanent Space Force teacher, as interest in the new branch of military service continues to grow among cadets.
Air Force Col. Luke Sauter, a tenured professor and head of the school’s astronautics department, will transfer to Space Force on Friday in a formal ceremony at the academy. The school sees this as a chance for the new service to gain much-needed visibility in front of the cadets.
“It is important that our cadets see Guardians throughout our academy and have the opportunity to speak with Colonel Sauter and other Space Force leaders as they reflect on the branch of military service that they would like to join,” the brigadier said. General Linell Letendre, dean of the faculty, said in a press release.
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Ahead of his transfer ceremony, Sauter said in a press release that calling it an honor to serve the new military branch would be “an understatement.”
Sauter graduated from the Air Force Academy in 2002 and worked at the National Reconnaissance Office, focusing on directing imagery intelligence, and as a legislative liaison prior to his current assignment at the school, where he encouraged the interest of cadets in space careers.
“It has been an incredible source of pride for our entire astronautics department to play a role in developing space-focused officers for decades here at the academy,” Sauter said. “It is certainly a historic day for the assignment of our first permanent professor to Space Force; I hope there will be many more to follow.”
The Space Force does not have its own service academy. Since it is part of the Department of the Air Force, it graduates and commissions officers from among the academy’s airmen – similar to the Marine Corps’ relationship with the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.
As of 2020, 9% of the student body – 88 cadets – have been commissioned into the Space Force upon graduation.
The following year, the Air Force Academy opened the school’s first Space Force Detachment, allowing cadets to connect with active duty Guardians to learn more about the service.
As of 2021, the number of cadets who become Space Force officers upon graduation has increased to 11%, or 115 cadets.
When the Air Force Academy graduates the class of 2022 next month, it is expected that about 10% of cadets, or 101, will be appointed as Space Force officers.
Letendre said having a full-time teacher in the Space Force would only spark more interest in serving future Guardians.
“As the first permanent Space Force teacher, Colonel Sauter will bridge the gap between the needs of Space Force and our curriculum as we build future leaders of character,” Letendre said in a statement.
— Thomas Novelly can be contacted at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @TomNovelly.
Related: Space Force will have its first Guardian-only Boot Camp class next month
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