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News | Nov. 2, 2021

NRO opens unclassified collaboration center

By Staff

On Thursday, Oct. 28, NRO officially opened the CASTLE—The Center for Advancing Science, Technology, Learning, and Engagements.

The CASTLE is a collaboration with NRO’s Advanced Systems and Technology (AS&T) directorate, the Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR) and their partnership intermediary, the Virginia Tech Applied Research Corporation (VT-ARC).

NRO Director Dr. Chris Scolese joined AS&T Director Dr. Susan Durham and AFOSR Tech Advisor Dr. Van Blackwood to cut the ribbon and officially open the center among a small group of employees from the respective organizations.

The group toured the nearly 10,000 square foot unclassified facility, which includes areas for collaboration, teaching and meetings, as well as quiet spaces, and laboratory workshops. During the tour, the CASTLE’s laboratory was set up for a hands-on geology experiment for understanding the earth’s layers, as well as a 3D printing station where a Polylactic Acid Plastic castle was being printed. Guests also stopped at the collaboration space where VT-ARC demonstrated digital collaboration capabilities that will allow NRO to more effectively interact with the unclassified world. 

The CASTLE currently hosts technical courses on topics such as small satellites and data science for staff across the Intelligence Community and Department of Defense. Personnel receive hands-on training with modern technology and experiential learning through limited-term projects and prototyping.

NRO plans to expand collaboration beyond the government in the near future. There will be opportunities for academic outreach through STEM events for K-12 students, summer internships, and college and university partnerships.