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SN Military.Space Sandra Erwin

The national security space program at the Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress is working on a list of recommendations on how the Pentagon could work better with the commercial space industry.

Congress next year will consider a Trump administration proposal to establish a new military branch for space. One of the justifications for creating an independent Space Force is that the Air Force’s procurement system is stifling innovation. The Space Force debate might not be settled for another year or two, but there is a lot the Air Force could do today to modernize space systems faster, said Joshua Huminski, director of the National Security Space Program at the Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress.

The program is run by the Mike Rogers Center for Intelligence and Global Affairs, co-chaired by former Republican congressman Mike Rogers of Michigan, and former Democratic congressman Glenn Nye of Virginia.

“The question we’re tackling is what is the Air Force doing today and what can it do tomorrow to better integrate capabilities,” said Huminski.

The center is nonpartisan and “vendor neutral,” he said. Rogers started the national security space program with the goal of promoting closer ties between policy makers and the business community.

MAKE CHANGES SOONER NOT LATER The national security space sector is poised for sweeping change if the Pentagon moves forward with efforts to create a Space Development Agency and if Congress approves standing up a Space Force. Huminski said Rogers believes procurement should be fixed sooner, regardless of how the reorganization pans out. “We’re driving ahead rather than waiting to see what happens.”

The center’s national security space program aims to “identify ways in which commercial, particularly emerging ‘new space’ technologies, can be more efficiently and effectively integrated into the national security space architecture, where appropriate,” Huminski said.

“Commercial space is in the midst of a massive boom. From new launch providers, reusable rockets, new and smaller satellites, larger constellations, and more capable sensors are rapidly coming online. If the United States is to remain the dominant power in space, it will need to seize upon, integrate, and exploit these technologies more swiftly than it currently is doing.”
Joshua Huminski, Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress

The center’s recommendations will be rolled out next year when the new Congress is in session. The group so far has hosted three off-the-record roundtables in Washington and in Los Angeles, and more are planned, Huminski said. The proposal will address acquisition culture, mission assurance and risk tolerance. “Our goal is to strengthen the national security space architecture as a whole, not advocate for one vendor over another.”

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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...