With the 2016 National Defense Authorization Act completed and headed to the president’s desk likely sometime next week, it’s useful to summarize the biggest policy changes therein. While most Republicans do not take the veto threat seriously, Mr. Obama will surely do just that. Still, when this bill eventually receives his signature later this year… Keep reading →


CAPITOL HILL: The balance of power between the Office of Secretary of Defense and the four service chiefs shifted to the uniformed leaders today as details began to seep out about the annual defense policy bill. The House-Senate conference on the 2016 National Defense Authorization Act largely enshrined what Sen. John McCain wanted as part of… Keep reading →

Falcon 9 launch SpaceX

WASHINGTON: The Pentagon’s push to open the EELV to greater competition may be counterproductive to the best management of the program. The Government Accountability Office says this approach “could limit program oversight and scheduling flexibility” for the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle. Why? It’s simple really: “The Air Force plans to develop an acquisition strategy for… Keep reading →

CRS-7 launch

UPDATED: SMC Clarifies That Certification Is Not Indefinite. PENTAGON: Word from the Air Force is that SpaceX “remains certified” to launch the nation’s most expensive and heaviest intelligence and Air Force satellites. It took a few days, which is not surprising how politically and legally sensitive everything involving Elon Musk and SpaceX national security launch certification… Keep reading →

SpaceX CRS7 explodes

WASHINGTON: Boom. The explosion that destroyed CRS-7 as it headed to orbit could mean Elon Musk’s fevered efforts to win the highly lucrative business of sending intelligence and Air Force satellites into space are, if not endangered, then at least in question. While the failure of SpaceX’s resupply mission to the International Space Station isn’t directly tied… Keep reading →

Elon Musk

WASHINGTON: While few doubted it would happen, the news that Elon Musk’s scrappy, pushy and — yes — disruptive launch company SpaceX won certification from Space and Missile Systems Center carries enormous import for the international launch industry, for the Pentagon, the Air Force and the Intelligence Community. It’s not that Musk’s SpaceX is going… Keep reading →

ULA CEO Tory Bruno Unveils Vulcan

WASHINGTON: The still-newish CEO of the United Launch Alliance, Tory Bruno, faces tough questions from his board of directors. He faces tough questions from the House and the Senate about his use of Russian-built RD-180 rocket engines. But his biggest short-term problem — being allowed to use enough RD-180 engines to get his company from here to… Keep reading →

Sen. John McCain and Sen. Jack Reed SASC hearing

CAPITOL HILL: In a bold attempt to fix the Pentagon’s creaking system to develop and buy weapons, the Senate Armed Services Committee today introduced broad changes to who controls weapons programs and tried to encourage Silicon Valley and other non-defense industries to help maintain the country’s global technological and military dominance. This is the beginning of… Keep reading →

Russian-made RD-180 engines propel an Atlas V rocket heavenward.

CAPITOL HILL: Sen. John McCain came out swinging about the Russian RD-180 rocket engine during a Senate Armed Service strategic forces hearing. McCain began yesterday by asking Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James if she knew that a company called Amross was making millions of dollars of profits from the sale of the Russian rocket engines to the… Keep reading →

Gen. Jon Hyten

  COLORADO SPRINGS: Do not ever, ever tell Gen. John Hyten, the head of Air Force Space Command, that your satellite will use a proprietary ground system to receive and telemetry and fly the satellites. Today, Hyten told several hundred people at the annual Space Symposium here that he “was not happy” when a team of… Keep reading →

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