WASHINGTON — The Space Acquisition Council, a senior level group created by Congress to oversee space procurements across the Defense Department, held an emergency meeting April 27 to discuss ways to support the space industry that has been hit hard by the pandemic.
Will Roper, assistant secretary of the Air Force for acquisition, technology and logistics, chairs the council. In a statement, he said the group is working to “assess sectors most impacted by the pandemic while creating an environment where companies in need can compete fairly in the event of supplemental federal relief funds.”
“Our space industrial base is critical to our military and economy,” said Roper. The emergency session was to “synchronize our response to fragile supply chains, at risk workforces, and receding commercial markets and we’ll continue to work with the Department of Defense and Congress to get additional help.”
Roper said the council directed a survey go out to space industrial base sectors, including members and non-members of the Space Enterprise Consortium, federally funded research and development centers and think tanks.
The survey will seek to identify markets “under immediate distress,” said Roper. Another goal is to understand the impact of COVID-19 on program schedules and determine what stimulus can be provided to sectors like small space vehicles sand micro-electronics.
National Reconnaissance Office Director Christopher Scolese said the NRO will work with the Space Acquisition Council and with the U.S. Space Force to “ensure the stability of the space sector.”
While major suppliers have been affected by COVID-19, an immediate concern of the council are lower-tier suppliers and vendors, as well as small companies, especially in the small launch, commercial satellite communications, and micro-electronic sectors.
“The COVID crisis must not undermine critical space industries,” said Gen. Jay Raymond, U.S. Space Force Chief of Space Operations. “Given the threat to space capabilities posed by potential adversaries, we need to ensure the U.S. space industrial base remains strong.”