Press Release

Teets’ goal: Transform Space Ops

By SpaceRef Editor
February 15, 2002
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Transforming the best aspects of military and national space operations into one integrated national space security capability is the goal of the nation’s highest space official.

“I’ve been tasked with bringing together the military and national elements of space to assure that the nation has the best national security capabilities,” said Under Secretary of the Air Force Peter B. Teets in a meeting with reporters at the Pentagon on Feb. 7.

“To make this vision a reality, my first objective is to implement the recommendations of the National Security Space Commission,” said Teets, who also heads the National Reconnaissance Office. “To do so, we’re going to begin exploiting the best practices of military space and the NRO communities to make the world’s best space forces even better.”

Teets introduced an organizational change designed to make the transformation smoother and transparent to national and military customers.

Just as the NRO has a deputy director who is in charge of running day-to-day operations, “I have created a new ‘deputy of military space’ (position) so that we can have the same focus on the military side of the space equation,” he said.

Another new office is the Directorate of National Security Space Integration.

“This (directorate) will be responsible for implementing the best practices of military and national space programs,” he said.

Its goal is also to help transform programs and pool resources more effectively, he said. Brig. Gen. Michael A. Hamel, director of space operations and integration, will lead the new directorate.

Among the key goals for national space security is universal situation awareness, Teets said.

“What we’ve found is that in moving ahead with the war on terrorism, it’s going to be important for us to have persistent intelligence,” he said. “It’s going to be important for us to develop some breakthrough technologies and implement techniques that use the best of both military and national systems to implement the mission.”

One way to achieve that persistence is to have more satellites in stationary orbit, Teets said. The other way to elevate persistence over a battlefield is to develop new higher-altitude intelligence collection technology.

“Typically speaking, the farther away you are from an object, if you want to take its picture, the larger the lens you need,” he said. “So it becomes a technical question, really.

“I think one of the great powers of the NRO has been the revolutionary, breakthrough technology it has made over the course of its 40 years of existence,” Teets said.

Another area of Teets’ transformation plan merges the Air Force’s reusable launch vehicle and NASA’s space-launch initiative.

“There have been some wheels put in motion to look at RLV development,” he said. “I think it’s wise for us to have a partnership with NASA and help them in ways that are possible for us, and vice versa.”

Though security for space-based assets is still in its formative stages, Teets realizes its necessity.

“I think one of the important things we need to look at is how we are going to protect and defend our space assets,” he said. “It is clear that these assets are vital to our national security. It’s important for us to know at what point in the future those assets will be threatened in some way, to see how those threats develop and evolve, and then put together a plan that will allow us to protect those assets.

“We have a tremendous team to leverage our unparalleled talent from the military, intelligence community and industry to provide the nation with the best space capabilities to meet the challenges of the 21st century,” he said.

SpaceRef staff editor.