Stephen Kitay, deputy assistant secretary of defense for space policy, Credit: CSIS

WASHINGTON — The Pentagon’s Space Acquisition Council is reviewing early results of a survey of space industry suppliers that asked companies to identify specific impacts of the coronavirus crisis on their businesses.

Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Space Policy Stephen Kitay, who is a member of the council, said the data received so far reveals widespread consequences of the pandemic.

“We’re reviewing the results as they come in,” Kitay said on a June 3 podcast hosted by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.

“I’m not going to go into all the details,” said Kitay. But he did identify some broad areas of concern. “We are seeing reports of schedule impacts, strain on supply chains and adjustment to future business plans.”

The survey was sent to companies last month by the Space Enterprise Consortium, a procurement organization under the Space Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center that works with both traditional defense contractors and commercial vendors.

Kitay said there is agreement in the space council that during this downturn DoD has to keep projects moving to help the industrial base.

“We have to keep the mission going,” he said. “And this includes the space industrial base that we rely on. Sustaining the space industrial base is a national security concern.”

The Space Acquisition Council, led by Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition Will Roper, includes senior leaders from DoD and the intelligence community.

“We continue to make contract awards, and in some cases have accelerated those awards,” Kitay said. DoD also has waived cost penalties to contractors for schedule delays.

“We have to keep the work going,” said Kitay. “We have to keep the opportunities, and in particular competitive opportunities in this environment.”

To encourage small businesses and startups compete for contracts during the pandemic, Kitay said, the Space and Missile Systems Center and the Air Force AFWERX organization are conducting virtual meetings to hear pitches from companies.

“This is where innovative companies can pitch, submit ideas that will be evaluated and then connected into the Small Business Innovation Research program,” he said. “Small businesses and startups can offer disruptive and sometimes game changing ideas and technologies.”

Sandra Erwin writes about military space programs, policy, technology and the industry that supports this sector. She has covered the military, the Pentagon, Congress and the defense industry for nearly two decades as editor of NDIA’s National Defense...