The ISTEF Site is located at the Kennedy Space Center, Florida. It is a Navy SSC PAC facility operated by CSC. ISTEF was originally built in 1989 to support the Strategic Defence Initiative Organization's Innovative Sciences and Technology office (SDIO/ISTEF).
Today ISTEF has a much broader mission; we support research and development of electro-optics sensing technologies for DOD, commercial and academic applications. Our DOD customers include: the Army, Navy Air Force, DARPA, and DIA.
Our Facilities include a laser and optics laboratory, 1km laser test range, a precision tracker (gimbal) with a coude mirror feed (for laser transmission), and several transportable trackers capable of supporting active (laser) or passive testing. Additionally, ISTEF maintains an assortment of telescopes, optics, and sensors to support data collection requirements.
ISTEF is a tenant of the 45th Space Wing at Patrick Air Force Base in Cape Canaveral Florida and has operating agreements that allow tasking Eastern Range assets as needed. We also have standardized range operations for laser testing against boosting rockets, satellites, and other targets.
ISTEF has a close partnership with the Univeristy of Central Florida (UCF) Engineering Department and the UCF College of Optics and Photonics (CREOL).
This partnership gives us access to cutting edge R&D and expertise in atmospheric propagation of lasers, laser communications, laser radar (LADAR), fiber-optic lasers, passive imaging, and optical design.
UCF is currently in the process of negotiating with the 45th Space Wing and NASA's Kennedy Space Flight center for the Townes Laser Institute to assume management and operation of the ISTEF facility.