SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. --
If there’s a real-life ‘easy button,’ Capt. Christopher Dong, 1st Space Operations Squadron campaign planner, went out of his way to develop it for his crew.
Dong’s integrated space common operating picture earned him recognition for the Harold Brown Award while stationed at Buckley AFB in Aurora, Colo.
Lt. Col. Bryan Bell, 1 SOPS commander, said the Harold Brown Award, named after the former secretary of the Air Force, recognizes significant achievement in research and development by one person leading to, or demonstrating promise of a substantial improvement in the operational effectiveness of the Air Force.
Dong’s creation also provided him an opportunity to send the idea to Spark Tank, an annual competition where Airmen can pitch ideas to Air Force leadership and a panel of experts.
“It made me feel what I did was important,” Dong said. “I’m not sure if they’re still using the tool I developed at Buckley since that was two years ago, but I know there have been a lot of ideas that have sprung from (COP) since I left.”
His work came at a critical time for Buckley as they had an issue he was capable of solving.
“I was working a proshift one day and one of the operators said, ‘We don’t know where our satellites are in space,’” Dong said. “So I brought up our commercial software that we had there and I imported all the tables of where all the satellites are in space at all times. I put them into that software and it showed them where all our satellites were.”
Although Dong, whose background is in aerospace engineering and holds a master’s degree from the University of Colorado Boulder, made it sound simple, creating the algorithm still took time.
Once he simplified the process, though, the arduous endeavor became basic.
“I used (engineer programming language) primarily to code everything and I pressed a button and it did all one thousand iterations in a few minutes rather than having to do all of that by hand,” Dong said. “If I wanted to run a scenario a thousand different times with a consolation of satellites just moving ever so slightly, I didn’t want to do that manually.”
Bell is not only grateful to have Dong in the squadron, but he’s happy to watch him lead by example.
“It’s very important to have someone who’s willing to see a problem, either a small or large problem, roll their sleeves up and jump in and be ready to solve it. It makes us more effective in defeating the enemy,” Bell said. “He’s seen where we need improvement and seen where he can apply his unique and exquisite skill set to make our mission better.”
Bell also highlighted additional recognition Dong earned for his work.
“Chris was requested for Spark Tank and was approved by Gen. [Jay] Raymond and he made it to the Vice Chief of Staff’s [Gen. Stephen Wilson] desk as one of the service finalists for this initiative,” Bell said.
Bell looks forward to how 1 SOPS will benefit from Dong’s expertise and initiative.
“It’s going to be huge, in particular with the stuff he’s working on for our squadron,” Bell said. “Being able to cut down the intense task for our operators is going to allow them to shift their focus to more of a warfighting capability and what we need to be effective against the enemy.”