CAPITOL HILL: “Failure to launch” isn’t a metaphorical concern when you work on nuclear weapons. That’s why the director of the Navy’s euphemistically named Strategic Systems Program (SSP) is a worried man. What has Vice Adm. Terry Benedict worried is something neither he, nor the Navy nor the entire Defense Department directly control. It’s the… Keep reading →
NATIONAL HARBOR: This is rocket science. As the US Navy tries to keep its crucial 1990-vintage Trident D5 nuclear-capable missile viable for decades to come, it’s working with everyone from the Royal Navy to the US Air Force to NASA to keep costs down and technology up to date. Meanwhile, the design team for the… Keep reading →
As the Defense Department’s budget goes down, the number of contracts awarded without competitive bids is going up. The share of contracts awarded without competition has risen from 39 percent in 2009 to 42 percent in 2012, according to a report I co-authored with Jesse Ellman and Rhys McCormick on DoD Contracting Trends. The news for… Keep reading →
CAPITOL HILL: The Pentagon’s top space officials told Congress today they have launched a study to ascertain if the United States can build its own rocket engines so expensive and large spy and GPS satellites don’t have to be launched using Russian rocket engines, as they are now. Gen. William Shelton, head of Air Force Space… Keep reading →
As the Department of Defense continues to wrestle with the high costs and often slow pace of military technology and acquisition programs, it would do well to take a closer look at that other bastion of high-tech government programs: the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. NASA’s low-cost missions from yesteryear just might hold the secret… Keep reading →
The public experienced a moment of angst in 1997 when it looked like Asteroid XF11 might threaten the Earth in 2028. It didn’t. But that doesn’t mean the threat doesn’t exist or that we should do nothing about it.
Asteroids and comets that come close to Earth are collectively known as Near Earth Objects (NEOs). In 1998, Hollywood released two movies dealing with NEOs, Deep Impact and Armageddon. The first movie, Deep Impact, focused on the human emotions related to impending doom, while Armageddon was an action-hero film. In it, Bruce Willis and his rag-tag band of oil drillers save humanity from an approaching killer asteroid, taking off in the Shuttle and within just 18 days of the asteroid being sited, deflect it away from Earth. Keep reading →
WASHINGTON: For those who aren’t part of the insular space community, you need to know that the National Space Symposium is the most important conference on space issues in the world. Everyone goes: the intelligence community; the Air Force; Army; Navy; industry; allies; even senior Chinese officials show up fairly regularly these days. Some 9,000 people attend in a good year.
But this year no one from NASA – that’s right, those people who gave us the Moon landings, Mars Rover, Voyager and are sort of synonymous with space — will attend NSS at the Broadmoor Hotel in Colorado Springs next month. Keep reading →
OSD recently appointed a new acting deputy assistant Secretary of Defense for space policy, and, assuming he keeps the job beyond January, he (or his replacement) might consider shifting his attention to some of the very difficult challenges facing space programs in the Defense Department.
First among those would be efforts to build military space systems that better serve the joint fight. We have long known that our dependence on space ensures that adversaries will try to negate its advantages. Russia and China have been exploring various ways to do so, and India has announced that it, too, perhaps for other reasons, is interested in developing anti-satellite capabilities. Making sure that military missions depending on space will be assured is one of the loud imperatives in the current US National Space Policy. Keep reading →