OSI PJ secures X-37B space mission

  • Published
  • By Thomas Brading
  • OSI Public Affairs

The Office of Special Investigations, Office of Special Projects, or PJ, were unsung heroes thanks to their counterintelligence activities and security efforts following a recent landmark Space Force launch. 

Last December's USSF-52 launch, which sent the X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle into orbit, marked not just a milestone for the Space Force, but also soared OSI PJ’s role in counterintelligence and security to new heights.

"At the heart of the X-37B mission are the extraordinary people at OSI PJ, whose passion and expertise drive us to new heights of achievement,” said Special Agent Lee Russ, OSI PJ executive director. “Their relentless dedication to security and professionalism ensures that we continue to push the boundaries of space exploration and inspire future generations."

The X-37B is an experimental test platform managed by the Department of the Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office, which is why it came under OSI’s protective wing.
Launched from Kennedy Space Center, Florida, aboard a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket Dec. 29, the mission underscored OSI's adaptability, skill, and diversity of its personnel, said Special Agent Cassie Hettmansperger, OSI PJ Detachment 11, Program Security Officer, who worked alongside senior military and industry leaders to ensure the safety of the mission. 

“Being able to support the research, development, and acquisition process for the Department of the Air Force and the DoD at large is incredible,” Hettmansperger said.  “OSI provides counterintelligence support to that capability,” Hettmansperger said. “So essentially, that's everything from threat mitigation on the ground to physical security and network protection.”

During the mission, OSI Special Agents extended their expertise beyond traditional boundaries and collaborating with other agencies like NASA. 

“I think [this mission is] interesting and unique, unlike anything I've seen in my career, how we're embedded with the customer,” said Special Agent Benjamin Arnold, OSI PJ Det 11. “This level of integration,” he added, “significantly enhances our ability to collaborate and effectively protect these technologies."

However, OSI's involvement was just one part of a larger collaborative effort aimed at ensuring the safety and security of the program. 

“We are protecting national level programs that are not specific to our traditional role within OSI,” Hettmansperger said.

For the USSF-52 launch, OSI PJ made the journey from Washington, D.C., to Florida’s Space Coast, to ensure their direct involvement and oversight at the launch site. Their physical presence was crucial for managing security in real time, Hettmansperger said, and underscored OSI's dedication to actively engaging in the protection of national interests.

"The successful launch of the X-37B exemplifies the dedication and unwavering commitment of OSI PJ’s talented team,” Russ said. “Their hard work and expertise have propelled us into a new era of innovation and advancement in space exploration."