Space Acquisition Council to consider new actions to help aerospace industry cope with pandemic

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The council plans to hold an “out of cycle” meeting within the next two weeks to focus on actions to shore up the aerospace industry.

WASHINGTON — A senior level group created by Congress to synchronize space procurements across the Defense Department will hold an emergency meeting to discuss possible measures to assist the aerospace industry, the Department of the Air Force’s top acquisition executive Will Roper said April 10.

The council plans to hold an “out of cycle” meeting within the next two weeks to focus on actions to shore up the aerospace industry and “identify how best to focus additional stimulus funding during COVID-19,” Roper said via a spokesperson in a statement to SpaceNews.

Roper, the assistant secretary of the Air Force for acquisition, technology and logistics, chairs the Space Acquisition Council, an oversight group established by Congress in the Fiscal Year 2020 National Defense Authorization Act.

The council held its first meeting by video conferencing on April 9.

“Our aerospace industrial base is particularly at risk as commercial markets recede and defense markets slow during COVID-19 uncertainty,” said Roper. “The Space Acquisition Council will hold an emergency session to converge on a plan of action to stabilize our industrial base. Working with Congress, we can ensure of nation’s space superiority does not become a coronavirus victim.”

The space council would consider new measures to help the industry following a series of actions the Pentagon has already taken to support cash-strapped suppliers. A task force led by Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment Ellen Lord over the past three weeks has rolled out several specific programs to relieve contractors from cost, schedule and performance impacts from the pandemic and to provide additional cash flow to suppliers.

Air Force spokeswoman Ann Stefanek said in a statement that the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on the aerospace industry was one of the topics discussed April 9 during the inaugural Space Acquisition Council meeting. The council also “discussed the purpose of the forum, the need for integration and synchronization across the national security space community, current and projected threats to American interests in space,” she said.

Members of the Space Acquisition Council include:

  • Gen. John Raymond, chief of space operations and commander of U.S. Space Command.
  • Shon Manasco, performing the duties of undersecretary of the Air Force.
  • Stephen Kitay, deputy assistant secretary of defense for space policy.
  • Derek Tournear, director of the Space Development Agency.
  • Christopher Scolese, director of the National Reconnaissance Office.
  • Lt. Gen. John Thompson, commander of the Space and Missile Systems Center.
  • Shawn Barnes, performing the duties of the office of the assistant secretary of the Air Force for space acquisition and integration.