WASHINGTON, March 17, 2016 —
Space is crucial to U.S. national security, and the Defense Department and intelligence agencies are working together well to ensure the United States dominates that domain, officials told the House Armed Service Committee’s strategic forces subcommittee March 15.
Access to space, building a Joint Space Operations Center and the close working environment between DoD and the intelligence community were among the topics discussed in the hearing.
Air Force Gen. John E. Hyten, the commander of Air Force Space Command and DoD’s point man for space, said that cooperation is the best he has seen in his service.
“The No. 1 lesson learned from the [Joint Interagency Space Operations Center] is the critical partnership we have with the [National Reconnaissance Office] and the intelligence community; it's better than I've ever seen in my 35-year career,” Hyten said. “It’s remarkable the progress that we’re making, and that partnership is critical to the future.”
Robert Cardillo, the director of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, said adversaries are trying to counter U.S. space capabilities and eliminate the decisive advantage America has. The interagency center “is an amazing effort between the [intelligence community] and the DoD to share information -- whether that’s indications and warning or whether it’s on defensive kinds of maneuvers that we potentially could do -- through a whole unity of effort between the two organizations,” Cardillo told the subcommittee.
The more information the national security team can share, the better protected space assets will be, he added. “It’s a great opportunity,” Cardillo said, and he noted that space-based systems are the core of American defense, whether it is global positioning systems or missile warning or communications.
But space operations are changing, Hyten told the panel, warning that assumptions about what the future might bring in space operations might be wrong.
As an example of Earth-bound changes affecting space, the general cited the move away from using Russian-built RD-180 engines to boost payloads to orbit, noting that estimates of the cost range from $1.5 billion to $5 billion.
The range of estimates, he said, “should really tell you that in reality, we don’t know how much that will cost us.”
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