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Face of Defense: A Childhood Love of Tech Led Her to the Space Force

Space Force Maj. Amber DeRiggi
Job Title: Director of Staff
Hometown: Louisville, Ky.
Stationed: Schriever Space Force Base, Colo.
Unit: Space Delta 15

When did you join the Air Force?  

I joined the Air Force after completing my bachelor's and master's degrees in electrical and computer engineering from the University of Louisville. I'm a proud [alum] of Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps (AFROTC) Detachment 295 and commissioned in August of 2009. My family has a strong heritage of military service, and I can trace back at least 150 years of military service on both sides of my family. I grew up watching planes take off and land at Louisville Muhammad Ali International Airport, home to the 123rd Air National Guard Airlift Wing. My father is a retired Marine, so growing up around military bases influenced me to pursue a career in aeronautics through the military.   

Why do you serve? 

I serve for those who served for me. I serve for those resting in Arlington and military cemeteries around the world. I serve for those who departed this world in battle. I serve for those who still live to tell their tales of war and sacrifice. I am grateful for the freedoms we have today, because of their sacrifices. I carry that legacy and we truly stand on the shoulders of giants. 

Have you always had an interest in space? 

Yes! Technology, engineering, space, rockets, you name it. I grew up on developing electronics. Everything I built depended on the electromagnetic spectrum for communications and receivers, so space has always been at the forefront of my innovation.  

Two uniformed service members pose for a photo with an older person in civilian attire.
Astronaut Visit
Air Force Capt. Amber DeRiggi, left, rocket launch systems avionics and electrical systems chief engineer, poses for a photo with Buzz Aldrin, a retired astronaut, and Air Force Capt. Abigail Sutton, at Space X Headquarters in Hawthorne, Calif., Aug. 17, 2016. Aldrin frequently visited Space X in 2016 to receive updates on the Dragon Capsule and future crewed missions.
Photo By: Courtesy photo
VIRIN: 230817-X-D0439-500
A uniformed service member stands next to a replica of a robot.
Amber DeRiggi
Air Force Capt. Amber DeRiggi, Air Force Space Command Headquarters Defensive Cyber Operations for Space lead, poses with R2-D2, the "Star Wars" droid, at the Air Force Academy’s electrical and computer engineering lab during a distinguished visitor engineer visit on Sept. 20, 2018.
Photo By: Courtesy photo
VIRIN: 230817-X-D0439-800
A person stands on top of a human pyramid, consisting of several uniformed service members.
Amber DeRiggi
Amber DeRiggi poses on top of a human pyramid at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., Jan. 18, 2017. Her team comprised military engineering experts on the Atlas V rocket. DeRiggi was the Atlas V Chief of Avionics and Electrical Systems.
Photo By: Courtesy photo
VIRIN: 230817-X-D0439-901
A person smiles while holding a handheld robot.
Amber DeRiggi
Amber DeRiggi poses for a photo with a robot at Naval Surface Warfare Center in Crane, Ind., Feb. 27, 2020. DeRiggi's team developed a robot that could climb over obstacles as part of her Air Force Engineering level 2 Certification.
Photo By: Courtesy photo
VIRIN: 230817-X-D0439-902

Why did you transfer into the Space Force? 

I was working at Peterson Space Force Base [in Colorado Springs, Colo.] when we became the U.S. Space Force headquarters, and the question became, 'Why not?' I jumped on the opportunity to be a small part of history.   

A uniformed service member stands next to a sign with a logo containing multiple signatures.
Amber DeRiggi
Space Force Maj. Amber DeRiggi, Space Delta 15 director of staff, poses with the DEL 15 emblem during the organization’s activation ceremony at Schriever Space Force Base, Colorado, March 10, 2023. The mission of DEL 15 is to provide service command-and-control capability, mission-ready crew forces, skills training, certifications, intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, cyber mission defense support and special mission support to the Joint Task Force-Space Defense and its National Space Defense Center.
Photo By: Courtesy photo
VIRIN: 230817-X-D0439-903
A person stands next to a sign, displaying an image and quote.
Amber DeRiggi
Amber DeRiggi poses for a photo at the University of Louisville’s J.B. Speed School of Engineering in Louisville, Ky., July 7, 2023. The University of Louisville honored DeRiggi for her distinctive accomplishments in space, engineering, science, technology, physics and math. DeRiggi’s canvas now hangs in the main engineering building, and a duplicate hangs in the electrical and computer engineering department, with her bachelor’s and master’s degrees.
Photo By: Courtesy photo
VIRIN: 230817-X-D0439-600

Talk about your military journey that led you to the National Space Defense Center. 

As the Chief of Avionics & Electrical Systems on the Atlas V rocket at Los Angeles Air Force Base, California, our team delivered $13.5 billion in space capabilities to orbit and now I get to see those satellites and space capabilities operating at the National Space Defense Center today.  

During my time at Peterson SFB, I was the executive agent to the NSDC, and led a small team that developed the delta construct that ultimately transformed into Space Delta 15. The Space Force organizes, trains, and equips the NSDC and as such, we built Space Delta 15 (DEL 15) to be the core DOD component of the center while the U.S. Space Force evolved and began to take on service functions and responsibilities.  

The NSDC is truly one of a kind, with DOD, mission partners and intelligence partnerships unmatched anywhere else. This is the epicenter of space defense operations, and everyone here is a subject matter expert trained and ready for mission execution.  

A group of people, wearing cold weather gear, stand atop a snowy mountain.
Cyber Team
Amber DeRiggi, front right, poses for a photo with friends and members of the National Space Defense Center's cyber team at the top of Mt. Bross, located in Pike National Forest, Colo., October 9th, 2022. Mount Bross is a 14,278-foot summit in the Mosquito Range of the Rocky Mountains of North America. The team hiked the DeCaLiBron Loop, summiting four 14,000-foot peaks in a single day.
Photo By: Courtesy photo
VIRIN: 230817-X-D0439-900

Talk about the mission of DEL 15. How is this DEL critical to the joint fight? 

DEL 15 provides service command and control capability, mission-ready crew forces, skills training, certifications, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance and cyber mission defense, communications, and special mission information technology support to the NSDC, develops training environments, testing, and simulation to prepare USSF forces, and designated joint and allied partners, to prevail in a contested, degraded, operationally limited all-domain environment. Joint warfighting relies on space operations and space defense, and DEL 15 is the command-and-control delta supporting the space defense mission, responsible for command-and-control of our joint orbital warfare assets.  

Why does space operations require a joint force effort?  

While the DOD is [composed] of military branches, the joint force is not truly segregated into services. We are holistically dependent on each other, as peacetime and warfighting both rely on multidomain operations. Each service has responsibilities and systems that are reliant on space capabilities. From intelligence, to fires, to battlespace maneuverability, space capabilities provide the warfighter and all levels of leadership the visualization tools required to fight and win in a contested environment.   

Tell me about your support system. 

My family is an interwoven group of lovers and philanthropists. My life support is my spouse, Steven, and our six children ranging from five to 18 years old. Military families and children have this incredible ability to adapt to unanticipated change. Therefore, they are robust, resilient and relentless. My support system does not rely on stability in place. As all military families do, we rely on stability within ourselves and each other. There are no words to describe the blessing that is my support system.

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What are your hobbies?  

My hobbies include traveling and family adventures, rockets, electronics, hunting, fishing, hiking, building Legos with my children and working on my 1964 Ford Mustang. I'm a car fanatic, from Bugatti Type 57SC Atlantic to the Koenigsegg Gemera. I find hobbies that stimulate and inspire to our children's creative mindsets, just as my mom did for me. 

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