Scott Conner, the Space Dynamics Laboratory’s Missile Defense Agency director, poses for a portrait on Thursday.

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Utah State University’s Space Dynamics Laboratory is celebrating its 25th year being a part of the U.S. Department of Defense as a University Affiliated Research Center.

Scott Conner, SDL’s Missile Defense Agency UARC director, said UARCs were developed to ensure that essential engineering and technology capabilities that are important to the DOD are maintained.

Conner said SDL does several different kinds of work for the DOD, including satellite technologies, ground data stations, space and airborne sensor systems, engineering, testing and calibration.

SDL will be celebrating its anniversary throughout the year. Conner said they will be issuing commemorative shirts and “challenge coins,” hosting workshops and holding events for employees and their families.

“We are proud of our UARC heritage and status and our role in supporting the Department of Defense and the nation,” Conner said.

Conner said SDL benefits Cache Valley’s reputation and provides employment — in fact, SDL is currently hiring.

“SDL employs over 1,000 professional engineers, scientists, technicians, business professionals and USU students,” he said. “Most of our employees live and work in this beautiful area. They raise families here, purchase real estate, buy their groceries and seek out the many opportunities Cache Valley has to offer.”

Conner said USU students are “essential” to SDL, which employs students to work on engineering and art projects and within business operations.

In a press release, SDL’s President H. Scott Hinton said their research leads to developments in space technology.

“Research institutions such as Utah State University’s Space Dynamics Laboratory have long been catalysts for innovative breakthroughs, and the UARC designation enables the DOD and other government organizations to advance a variety of game-changing technologies within the defense and space industry,” Hinton said.

Conner said SDL is involved in many “exciting” NASA missions, including the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft, a USU-led mission to study space weather from the International Space Station, building six spacecraft for NASA’s Sun Radio Interferometer Space Experiment mission, and delivering a thermal subsystem for NASA’s mission to determine whether Jupiter’s moon Europa can sustain life.

SDL offers public tours twice a month for those interested, Conner said.

“Tours are designed to help engage visitors, particularly youth, about the exciting possibilities the science disciplines provide,” he said.

SDL is located on the USU Innovation Campus in North Logan, near Lowe’s and Cache Valley Fun Park. It was formed in 1982 and became a UARC in 1996, along with five other universities.

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