SHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. --
Capt. Allyson Haynes, Space Delta 8, 50th Operations Support Squadron GPS staff instructor; has always been torn between developing her engineering career and her U.S. Air Force career. Since re-commissioning in the U.S. Space Force in September 2020, she has found a way to do both with all the fresh opportunities the new service brings.
“I’ve always been interested in science and technology, so when the chance came around to join the Space Force, it was kind of an obvious choice for me,” said Haynes. “I don’t think it has 100% sunk in yet, but it’s pretty awesome knowing that we have a lot of changes coming down the pipe, and I’m just excited to see what those are.”
Currently, Haynes is responsible for training 2nd Space Operations Squadron crew commanders and crew chiefs, who lead teams of eight military members and two civilians conducting 24/7 GPS satellite operations.
“I think my role is important because I’m setting up the crews to perform the mission successfully,” she said. “Good crew commanders can make a big difference in how smoothly operations go and how cohesive and how happy people are that are working on crew.”
What really makes her job interesting, however, is the diverse array of people she works with and the wealth of knowledge and expertise they share.
“I receive students of widely varying backgrounds, so I get to learn something new with each class,” she explained. “I’ve taught engineers who are here for their career-broadening tours, squadron leadership members who have been working in space for over a decade and other members of [2nd] SOPS who are experts in areas of GPS that I certainly am not an expert in.”
Prior to her career in space operations, Haynes graduated from Purdue University in May 2016, with a Bachelor of Engineering. Despite landing internships at General Electric Appliances in Louisville, Kentucky, and Orbital ATK in Phoenix, Arizona, she said she was always drawn to a career in the Air Force. For that, she credits her father, a retired Air Force flight navigator.
“I mainly experienced his career while he was a navigator on B-52s,” she recalled. “I [saw] him going on adventures and trying new things, and it just seemed like a noble cause to always be on call for the country so it just kind of inspired me.”
Leaning on her engineering background, Haynes said she plans on attending graduate school this fall to study hypersonics, a field of study which focuses on the conditions that arise at speeds in excess of Mach 5, or five times the speed of sound.
“It’s high speed aerodynamics,” she explained, adding that hypersonic technology is an emerging field in the Space Force. “There’s a lot of unknowns we have about how fluids behave at those Mach numbers under those conditions, so I’m going to school to study that and hopefully become more familiar with those mechanics to continue developing our technology in that area.”
When she’s not working in the fast-paced environment of space operations, Haynes enjoys volunteering at Happy Cats Haven, a no-kill shelter in Manitou Springs where she helps foster and socialize homeless cats for adoption to new families.
“It’s a slow process, just getting them more used to people, getting them a little bit better about approaching strangers, or being picked up or even being pet sometimes; but it’s important if they want to get adopted out to families that they are able to interact with other people and sometimes other cats. If they’re sitting in the corner, they’re probably not going to be noticed as much,” she said.
While fostering has its rewards, the downside for Haynes is having to say goodbye when they find a permanent home.
“Fosters are especially hard,” she said. “Cats I’ve worked with in the shelter, it’s not too bad. It’s great to see them get out. But cats I’ve fostered, you form a pretty strong bond with them because they’re with you all the time, so it’s bittersweet.”
However, not all the cats she cares for end up with other families. Haynes has since adopted three cats of her own, named Angie, Paulie and Kiwi. She said they kept her and her husband, Kevin, company during the early shutdown months of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We fostered during the big shutdown quarantine last March, and so they kept us quite busy when they were around,” she said. “It’s been a little bit tough, but we have each other, we live together, and we’re staying active, working out, and then volunteering as much as possible, so we’re getting through it.”
Though 2020 was a rollercoaster of a year, with an ongoing pandemic and the standing up of the Space Force, Haynes said she remains optimistic about what the future holds.
“I’m taking it one step at a time,” she said. “I’ve always kind of felt a calling to the Air Force, [and] now Space Force, and it’s been a really rewarding experience. I’ve had a lot of fun in operations, so I don’t know 100% what my future holds, but I’m pursuing engineering again, keeping in the fields [and] staying relevant, and we’ll just see where the Space Force takes me.”