The first Georgia Tech student to transfer into the newly created United States Space Force (USSF) is Captain Chloe Babcock. Babcock, who is earning a master’s degree in operations research (OR) from the H. Milton Stewart School of Industrial and Systems Engineering (ISyE), is currently a Space Force Operations Officer. She also serves as an instructor for the Institute’s Air Force ROTC detachment.
The mission of the Space Force, a sister-branch of the U.S. Air Force (AF), is to provide the joint military forces with space capabilities for air, land, and sea assets belonging to the United States and its allies. The USSF additionally aims to explore space and its possibilities as a war-fighting domain. Babcock’s skills and interests align perfectly with the USSF mission.
“I wanted to serve in a military culture that valued my voice being heard, constant improvement and optimization, and the ability to be creative,” Babcock said. “And I found that the Space Force was establishing that. The Air Force offered me these opportunities, which is why I initially joined in 2013. However, when USSF was in the process of standing up, our leadership spoke of the heavy emphasis the service would place on innovation, agility, and finding better ways of solving problems.
“One notable example is that the chain of command structure is significantly shorter than that of our AF counterparts,” she explained. “This translates into faster decision-making, accelerated change implementation, and closer connections from the lowest to highest levels of our organization. Everyone in the USSF is helping establish how the U.S. will conduct business in space and – ultimately – defining what space warfare could look like.”
Babcock knew that her ISyE education would be particularly valuable in the newest military branch – the USSF was established at the end of 2019 – and in particular, her analytical and problem-solving skills. Given the Space Force’s nascent stage, Babcock’s logistical proficiencies are crucial to the USSF’s success.
“Getting a degree in OR and holding a position as an operations officer pair beautifully, and both highlight my passion for improving and optimizing,” she said. “The U.S. Space Force has been given the responsibility of protecting and defending our American way of life in the space domain. This is a momentous task that requires ingenuity and well-informed decision-making. And it is this mission set that I am drawn to support.”
She further noted, “Operations research is a discipline that provides tools to not only conduct advanced analytical analysis of a system but also to find the best possible solution to complex problems. The USSF operates in the most challenging of domains, in which there are so many unanswered questions, and I am extremely passionate about using OR to get after those questions, find the optimal solution, and implement those answers for the betterment of our nation and our allies.”
Upon joining the Air Force, Babcock served as a satellite vehicle operator, where she focused on the communication of mission directives to and data downloading between satellites. From there, she moved up to crew commander, a position responsible for a team of satellite operators. These positions go together with her specialty, orbital warfare, which directs the use of satellites in warfare. Now at Georgia Tech, her job as an AFROTC instructor has supported her throughout her education, while also allowing her to stay in the military.
“I wanted to get the best quality education possible, and the Institute was 100% the place,” Babcock said. “Georgia Tech is known for providing its students with exceptional education, as well as pushing us to think outside the box and challenge ourselves more than we thought possible in pursuit of improving the human condition. I wanted that vision to be an integral part of my education, so that after I return to space operations, I will be proficient not only in classroom concepts but also in their application to difficult and often daunting real-world problems.”
On the personal side, another positive to Babcock’s ISyE studies is that her family is nearby. Originally from Atlanta, Babcock realized that enrolling at Georgia Tech presented a rare opportunity to live close to her parents, her two older sisters, and her niece and three nephews.
“In my extremely limited free time, I spend most of my time with family,” she said.
After graduating in in late 2021, Babcock plans to continue in the orbital warfare domain with the USSF. She hopes that more students will feel a calling to explore their curiosity about space – not just for military purposes but for civilians as well.
“Improving the human condition is one of Georgia Tech’s strategic initiatives, and the Space Force is a way to do so,” Babcock concluded.
To read more about Babcock's journey to the U.S. Space Force, along with those of other Georgia Tech ROTC officers and cadets, check out the Ivan Allen College feature, "First Georgia Tech Students, ROTC Officers, Join U.S. Space Force."
H. Milton Stewart School of Industrial and Systems Engineering