By Robert White
Air Force Office of Scientific Research
The Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR) will soon host its annual Spring Review from 5 through 9 March, 2012. This program review, to be held at 950 Glebe Road, Suite 210, in Arlington, Virginia, will be the 55th formally designated annual assessment of AFOSR’s research portfolio.
Since its establishment in 1951, AFOSR has been responsible for investing in extramural basic research programs at leading universities and in-house (intramural) Air Force laboratories. During the first five years of AFOSR’s existence, the annual budget was relatively lean (as was the staff–between 20 to 27 personnel).
It was then that history intervened when the Soviet Union launched Sputnik, the first earth satellite, in October 1957. Almost overnight, AFOSR’s budget almost doubled, and with it, a gradual commensurate boost in personnel. Sputnik was a major wake-up call regarding the overwhelming importance of science and technology to the future security, as well as economic vitality, of the United States. It was a hard lesson.
For several decades thereafter, AFOSR held not only a Spring Review, but a Fall Review as well. By 1975 AFOSR was responsible for all Air Force basic research funding, and the bi-annual reviews continued to provide a formal review of the status and areas of emphasis in the overall basic research portfolio.