Federal Employee of the Year ; image: a medal and an eagle

Smaller news stories from around the federal landscape: Space Force breaks record, the 2023 Sammies, and a look at the “America the Beautiful Challenge”

In this week’s roundup of news from across federal agencies, we have three smaller stories you might’ve missed. First, reviewing the launch record the US Space Force recently shattered. Then, see which feds took home medals last week. And last, a review of the “America the Beautiful Challenge.”

US Space Force

Around mid-September, the US Space Force along with two federal contractors shattered a record regarding launching a satellite into orbit. After receiving launch instructions, the “Alpha” launch vehicle was able to blast the “Victus Nox” satellite off into space just 27 hours later. The series of tasks that were needed after receiving the instructions typically takes 21 days so the record is impressive. The previous quickest time was performed by Northrup Grumman in June 2021 when they were able to launch the “Pegasus XL” rocket just 58 hours after receiving instructions from the SSC (Space Systems Command) of the Space Force.

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In August, two federal contractors were put on “hot standby,” meaning they had to await an alert notification with launch instructions. Once those were received on September 14th, they had to get the satellite in the sky in 60 hours or less. Millennium Space Systems,  the contractor which built the “Victus Nox” had to travel 165 miles from El Segundo, CA to Vandenberg, CA, where it connected with the “Alpha” launch vehicle that was developed by Firefly Aerospace. From there, it was launched with more than half of the allotted time to spare.

Federal Employee of the Year

Last week, the “Samuel J. Heyman Service to America” (or “Sammies”) medals were awarded. Laura Cooper of the Department of Defense was awarded “Federal Employee of the Year” for her team’s “meaningful” response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Melissa Emery-Arras was awarded the career achievement medal for her 21 years of service at the GAO. And Brian Key and Scott Bellamy of NASA won the Science, Technology, and Environment medal for their work on the DART mission, which altered the orbit of a large asteroid.

America the Beautiful Challenge

The US America the Beautiful challenge uses funds from both private sources and multiple federal agencies to award grants that allow applicants to cultivate “large scale projects” that address common interests across public and private land – specifically areas that are significant to the DoD, USDA, and DOI. The Biden Administration and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation have disbursed $116 million for conservation projects that are led by local authorities. The goals of the “challenge” include:

  • Conserving and restoring rivers, coasts, wetlands, watersheds, forests, grasslands, and important ecosystems.
  • Connecting and reconnecting wildlife corridors, landscapes, watersheds, and seascapes.
  • Improving ecosystems and community resilience to flooding, drought, other climate threats.

Expanding access to outdoor spaces, especially for underserved communities.


Until Next Time,

Benefits Ben, STWS

**Written by Benjamin Derge, Financial Planner, ChFEBC℠ The information has been obtained from sources considered reliable but we do not guarantee that the foregoing material is accurate or complete. Any opinions are those of Benjamin Derge and not necessarily those of RJFS or Raymond James. Links are being provided for information purposes only. Expressions of opinion are as of this date and are subject to change without notice. Raymond James is not affiliated with and does not endorse, authorize, or sponsor any of the listed websites or their respective sponsors.

Federal Employee of the Year ; image: a medal and an eagle

Federal Employee of the Year 2023