SCHRIEVER SPACE FORCE BASE, Colo. –
A southern belle from Louisville, Kentucky, aspired to leave her hometown and see the world; now, she’s the director of staff for the U.S. Space Force’s newest delta, Space Delta 15.
Coming from a long lineage of military service dating back more than 150 years, Amber DeRiggi, now a U.S. Space Force Major, has always had a desire to serve her country.
“I grew up watching planes take off and land at Louisville Muhammad Ali International Airport in Kentucky, home to the 123rd Air National Guard Airlift Wing,” DeRiggi said. “I’ve always wanted a career in aviation and space for as long as I can remember.”
After completing both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in electrical and computer engineering from the University of Louisville, DeRiggi commissioned into the U.S. Air Force in August of 2009 from AFROTC Detachment 295.
DeRiggi’s fascination with technological advancements and innovation through engineering paved the way for her first assignment to Hanscom Air Force Base, Massachusetts, working as a test engineer on aircraft systems and satellites.
“I was the flight commander for the 46th Test Squadron, Detachment 1, in charge of Global Broadcast Service and Integrated Broadcast System,” DeRiggi said. “I couldn’t believe at 23 years old I was trusted to handle these systems. The military builds confidence and discipline quickly.”
DeRiggi then completed a career-broadening tour in the Pacific theatre working with pararescuemen, survival, evasion, resistance, and escape specialists, combat rescue officers, before moving over 2,500 miles to Los Angeles AFB, California, to take on the role as chief of avionics and electrical systems on the Atlas V rocket.
This assignment foreshadowed her journey to the National Space Defense Center where she would integrate service functions to joint operations.
“In this assignment I launched 19 national security missions to space, led the $300 million upgrade to avionics systems on Atlas V and Delta IV rocket systems, and led a commercial parts initiative to cut 605 costs across our launch fleets,” DeRiggi said. “Our team delivered $13.5 billion in space capabilities to orbit, and today I get to see those satellites and space capabilities operating at the NSDC.”
In 2017, DeRiggi was assigned to Air Force Space Command at Peterson SFB, Colorado, where she witnessed the stand up of U.S. Space Force headquarters, December 20, 2019.
There, DeRiggi led a small team that developed the Delta construct that ultimately transformed into DEL 15, that activated here, March 10, 2023.
“Amber personifies what I expect from an ideal Guardian,” said U.S. Space Force Col. Stephen Lyon, DEL 15 commander and NSDC director. “Her commitment to the success of Delta 15 is the reason it exists today. Without her leading the charge, we would not have met all the necessary gates to get established.”
The mission of DEL 15 is to provide service command-and-control (C2) capability, mission ready crew forces, skills training, certifications, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR), and cyber mission defense support, as well as special mission support to the NSDC.
The NSDC is a partnership organization, strongly supported by both the DoD and Intelligence Community, that develops and improves U.S. ability to rapidly detect, warn, characterize, attribute and defend against threats to our nation's vital space systems.
“The NSDC is truly one of a kind, with DoD, mission partners, and intelligence partnerships unmatched anywhere else,” DeRiggi said. “This is the epicenter of space defense operations, and everyone here is a subject matter expert that is trained and ready for mission execution.”
The expected benefit of this new delta is the creation of a command-and-control mission-focused space delta conducting critical operations, training, and readiness missions for the NSDC.
DEL 15 is tasked with providing C2 ops crews for 24/7 NSDC mission areas, training and readiness certifications, cyber support, network and systems engineering contract support, and C2 ISR.
On July 17, 2021, DeRiggi transferred into the U.S. Space Force. Now, as a Guardian at the NSDC, DeRiggi brings a critical service perspective to the joint fight.
“The role of Guardians is to support the fight on the ground and in all domains. Our purpose on this planet isn’t on this planet, it’s inherent in our service slogan. Guardians command, control, secure and defend space assets and space-enabled capabilities,” DeRiggi said. “General James Dickinson once said that our joint force relies on space to communicate, navigate and deliver precision fires and our role is to provide real-time space capabilities that enable the warfighter to achieve all-domain supremacy.”