On Jan. 15, 2023, a Falcon Heavy rocket operated by SpaceX was utilized to send the USSF-67 national security mission into orbit. This mission included several payloads, three of which were developed by the Space Rapid Capabilities Office. This unveiled the shadowy military branch called Space RCO. 

It was unusual for the Space RCO, headquartered at Kirtland Air Force Base in New Mexico, to say something since they usually keep their activities secret. However, Kelly Hammett, the leader of the Space RCO, noted that the choice to expose the satellites on the USSF-67 mission is part of a more expansive attempt to begin discarding the agency’s veil of secrecy.

Seven months ago, Hammett was chosen to lead the Space RCO; previously, he had headed the directed energy division of the Air Force Research Laboratory. One of his objectives for the space agency is to enhance its public presence in Washington, DC, and collaborate with a greater assortment of the space industry.

“We’re going to be a little bit more open about what we do,” he told SpaceNews in a recent interview.

The Space Force has three acquisition divisions: the office in question, the Space Development Agency, and the bigger Space Systems Command.

The 2018 National Defense Authorization Act brought about the institution of the Space RCO, which was supported in Congress by Sen. Martin Heinrich of New Mexico.

Heinrich had been critical of the Air Force’s need for more support for the Operationally Responsive Space (ORS) Office at Kirtland Air Force Base for a long time. Established in 2007, the ORS Office managed quick-response space systems and smaller satellites. However, the Air Force decided to stop granting money to the office in 2013, choosing to fold its activities into the Space and Missile Systems Center in Los Angeles.

For several years, Congress kept allocating funds for ORS. Heinrich eventually made an effort to form a distinct entity for rapid space acquisitions, separate and physically apart from Space and Missile Systems Center, now the Space Systems Command. This led to the formation of the Space RCO.