What is an FFRDC?
Federally funded research and development centers, or FFRDCs, are unique independent nonprofit entities sponsored and funded by the U.S. government to meet specific long-term technical needs that cannot be met by any other single organization. FFRDCs typically assist government agencies with scientific research and analysis, systems development, and systems acquisition. They bring together the expertise and outlook of government, industry, and academia to solve complex technical problems.
FFRDCs work in the public interest and operate as strategic partners with their sponsoring government agencies to ensure the highest levels of objectivity and technical excellence. They are typically managed by a university or nonprofit parent organization in accordance with statutory and regulatory rules.
First established during World War II, FFRDCs operate in the industries of defense, energy, aviation, space, health and human services, and tax administration. According to the National Science Foundation, there are 39 different FFRDCs funded by the government.
The Aerospace Corporation’s FFRDC
The Aerospace Corporation’s FFRDC is sponsored by the United States Air Force, and provides objective technical analyses and assessments for space programs that serve the national interest. As the FFRDC for national security space, Aerospace supports both the long-term planning and the immediate needs of our nation’s military and reconnaissance space programs.
The Aerospace FFRDC provides scientific and engineering support for launch, space, and related ground systems. It also provides the specialized facilities and continuity of effort required for long-term programs. This end-to-end involvement reduces development risks and costs, and allows for a high probability of mission success.
The Department of Defense has identified five core competencies for the Aerospace FFRDC:
- Launch certification
- System-of-systems engineering
- Systems development and acquisition
- Process implementation
- Technology application
The primary customers are the Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center and the National Reconnaissance Office, although work is performed for civil agencies as well as international organizations and governments in the national interest.