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Space Force Chief: DOD Must Work to Ensure Strong Space Industrial Base

Aug. 3, 2020 | BY David Vergun , DOD News

A secure, stable and accessible space domain is of vital interest to the United States. However, leadership in space is not a right, and nations such as Russia and China are racing to catch up to Defense Department capabilities and deny the benefits from this domain, the Space Force's top leader said.

Space Force Gen. John W. ''Jay'' Raymond, chief of space operations, said the current U.S. advantage stems from its robust and innovative space industrial base.

A rocket travels through a blue sky.
Rocket Launch
A Falcon 9 GPS III rocket launches from SLC-40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., June 30, 2020.
Photo By: Space Force Airman Thomas Sjoberg
VIRIN: 200630-D-ZZ999-109

The 2020 Defense Space Strategy recognizes that commercial space activities have expanded globally in both volume and diversity. As such, Raymond said, the Space Force must leverage the technologies at the frontier of this commercial expansion and move quickly to reap the benefits of improving capability and affordability to be an effective partner for American industry. 

''By working with commercial partners, we will harness the best of both civil and government technology to further accelerate capabilities and expand the overall space economy,'' he said.

A manned rocket is ready to launch.
Ready for Launch
The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken in the Dragon crew capsule prepares to launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., May 30, 2020.
Photo By: Air Force Tech. Sgt. Kelly Goonan
VIRIN: 200530-F-PB262-039

The 2020 State of the Space Industrial Base Workshop brought together more than 120 voices from across the federal government, industry and academia to assess the health of the space industry and to provide recommendations for strengthening that industrial base. 

The themes upon which the conference was based were published last month in a report titled ''State of the Space Industrial Base 2020: A Time for Action to Sustain U.S. Economic and Military Leadership in Space.''

A rocket lifts off from a launch pad.
Falcon 9 Launch
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken in the Crew Dragon spacecraft launches from Launch Complex 39A at Kennedy Space Center, Cape Canaveral, Fla., May 30, 2020.
Photo By: Coast Guard Petty Officer 2nd Class Mason Cambridge
VIRIN: 200530-G-G0107-1001

While the report does not necessarily represent the views of DOD or other government agencies, Raymond said, it offers valuable insights on the path ahead. The six themes are:

  • Build a unity of effort across government, academia and the private sector to incentivize the space industrial base;
  • Enhance space communications; satellites; and, positioning, navigation and timing;
  • Improve space transportation and logistics from Earth to orbit and beyond;
  • Develop systems for human space exploration;
  • Build sufficient and efficient power for space transport systems;
  • Develop space manufacturing and space resource extraction;
  • Develop plans to protect, support, and leverage commerce in space;
  • Economically stimulate space industries through space bonds and a space commodities exchange and execute $1 billion of existing DOD and NASA funding through this exchange;
  • Develop a framework for creating wealth and security with allies and partners;
  • Develop a U.S. space workforce steeped in science, technology, engineering and math to fill more than 10,000 jobs domestically; and
  • Protect industry and entrepreneur intellectual property; and 
  • Increase trust and resilience in space supply chains including subcomponent and subsystem manufacturers of critical manufacturers. Subcomponent manufacturers, such as solar cell producers, face significant pressure from foreign producers.