Space University Research Initiative

The Space University Research Initiative (SURI) program is sponsored by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR) and the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) Chief Technologist Office and encourages participation between academia, the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) space focused technology directorates, and industry.

One of AFOSR’s top priorities is to bolster Space Force basic research. The vision is to grow space-related research to meet U.S. Space Force’s mission, strategy, and architectural challenges. In that vein, we are creating new investment strategies and new approaches to make that happen. The SURI is one of many ways we’re achieving that goal.

SURI was initiated as a pilot to foster engagements between various DOD agencies and the academic community in a developing USSF University Consortium, with the goal of improving the transition of critical concepts from the academic sector into revolutionary new military technologies. The program is intended to support basic and applied research in Space-related science and engineering at U.S. institutions of higher education with potential transition to essential applications of DOD interest. SURI supports multidisciplinary research efforts, ideally creating synergies to speed DoD-relevant research and development.

The three-way partnership envisioned in SURI is designed to play a major role in enhancing DoD-relevant capability in the Space domain, critical in the current environment of near-peer global competitors in the Space arena.

Each SURI award supports high-risk, high-reward ideas pursued by one or several principal investigators (PIs). Each of those PIs, in turn, brings an extended network of diverse post-docs, students, professors, and general STEM-educated citizens that represent the S&T workforce of the future.

AFRL topic chiefs play a critical role in SURI’s success by providing research guidance, encouraging the development of new talent, and supporting the transition of research products into DAF applications.

SURI seeks innovative solutions, not incremental improvements over the current state. SURI pushes the boundaries of S&T to encourage partnerships with AFRL and industry with significant basic research focus.

Eligible applicants are Public and State controlled institutions of higher education and private institutions of higher education.
SURI is part of the bold high risk high reward transformational basic research efforts enabling AFRL to continue to shape disruptive technologies the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Space Force can lead ahead of our adversaries.

Program POC:

  • Dr. Stacie Williams
    Space Science Architect


The Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR) expands the horizon of scientific knowledge through its leadership and management of the Department of the Air Force’s basic research program. As a vital component of the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), AFOSR’s mission is discover, shape and champion basic research that profoundly impacts the future Air and Space Forces. AFOSR accomplishes its mission through global investment in advanced discovery research efforts in relevant scientific areas. Central to AFOSR’s strategy is the transfer of the fruits of basic research to industry, the supplier of Air Force acquisitions; to the academic community, which can lead the way to still more accomplishment; and to the other directorates of AFRL that carry the responsibility for applied research leading to acquisition.

illustration for program

The Air Force Research Laboratory, via its basic research office, the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, announced December 17, the winners of the newly established Space University Research Initiative (SURI) program – a first step in improving the transition of critical concepts from academia into revolutionary new military technologies for the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Space Force (USSF). (Courtesy graphic)