- Status Report
- Feb 4, 2023
Statement of Peter R. Huessy before the House Science Committee, Space and Aeronautics Subcommittee
Testimony of Peter R. Huessy
President of PRH & Company, Potomac, Maryland
Senior Defense Associate at the National Defense University Foundation, Fort McNair, D.C.
October 11, 2001
Mr. Chairman and members of the Committee:
I am delighted to testify before you today on the issue of Space Planes and X Vehicles. I am appearing as President of PRH&CO, my
own defense consulting company. My views are my own and do not reflect any of my affiliations. I believe this hearing is particularly
timely, in that the just completed QDR discusses these issues in some detail. Particularly the ability of the US to strike targets quickly and
with precision. I will also discuss the operational concepts of a space plane, as well as the benefits and implications of such a deployment.
And I also will briefly address the issue of whether such a deployment would “militarize” space, as is popularly charged.
KEEP HIM ON THE PHONE
Let me begin with an event 20 years ago. The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General David Jones, was testifying before the
Senate Armed Services Committee. The issue: chemical and biological weapons in the hands of terrorist and rogue states, specifically
Libya. Senator Stennis asked what General Jones would recommend the US do if a cbw deployment became apparent in Libya, but where
such weapons were in buried and hardened bunkers. I will never forget his chilling response:Ê “Keep Quaddafi on the phone for 30
Just a few years ago, Secretary of Defense Perry was asked nearly the same question during a Pentagon press conference. His response,
though ambiguous, implied that any US attack on such Libyan facilities would probably have to use nuclear weapons. While the
Department issued a further clarification the next day saying such was not the case, the questions surrounding such a target go to the heart
of this hearing today.
We have been warned for some time that rogue states and the murderers they harbor are seeking both ballistic missiles and the
components of weapons of mass destruction. The act of war against the US on September 11th reminds us of how real such threats are.
A military space plane is one element, although a key one, to provide the US with the capability to quickly attack key, time urgent
targets, in whatever rogue states they may appear. Many of these targets will be buried and hardened from attack. Some of the facilities
may very well be mobile, such as the nuclear facilities described by a number of Iraqi defectors.
Independent DOD studies have repeatedly identified the need for such a capability and the absence of any current programs to get us
there. Part of the problem has been that while NASA wants a low cost, reliable and manned space plane, DOD wants quick response,
global reach, and an unmanned force application, requirements that are divergent.
MILITARY SPACE PLANE-OPERATIONAL CONCEPTS
Operationally, a military space plane, (MSP), is envisioned to provide rapid global presence and space access that would complement, not
replace, other land, sea and aerospace forces. The MSP’s primary component would be the Space Operations Vehicle or SOV, a reuseable
launch vehicle concept that would get the plane to orbit. Other components could be a Space Maneuver Vehicle, a Modular Insertion
Stage, an Orbital Transfer Vehicle and a Common Aero Vehicle.
My particular interest is being able to use space through which a munition could quickly and accurately travel to attack a critical target of
grave concern to the US. The USAF, the NDU Center for Counter Proliferation and the National Defense University Foundation held
just such a conference in April 2001, examining how to go after weapons of mass destruction in rogue states quickly and accurately. In
particular, we reviewed a USAF test of a projectile travelling at some 4000 feet per second and penetrating through some 30 feet of solid
granite. Further study indicates speeds of 7000ft/second are possible with the capability to penetrate some 70 feet of a hardened target.
We concluded that a space plane, a common aero vehicle, even a conventional ballistic missile, would be very useful in defeating such
deadly threats. The threats have repeatedly been identified. Targeting needs have been identified.
ADVANTAGES AND BENEFITS
Now the advantages of such a capability are manifold. The US may have neither the time nor the forward basing to attack such targets,
especially if we have to operate from CONUS given our current capabilities, particularly in light of anti-access strategies of our
adversaries. The media has been quick to suggest cruise missile strikes at nearly every opportunity as the best means for the US to attack
key targets, but deeply buried and hardened targets do not lend themselves to such capabilities.
Critics are quick to suggest that operating from or through space is somehow “militarizing space”. Would they rather we deploy attack
munitions only by sea, an attack that would take days, depending on where the US Navy is deployed and where the target is? Even
airpower takes an extended time to get in-theater.
Our Navy is deployed worldwide to guarantee freedom of the seas to merchant shipping. 16 key seaports worldwide handle some 80% of
all ocean going commerce. Does anyone believe protecting this critically important economic lifeline is somehow “militarizing the
Heavily defended targets, deep-in-country targets, hard and deeply buried facilities, wmd targets and time-sensitive targets all must be
taken out to deny an adversary’s ability to prosecute a conflict or prevent the US and its allies from combating aggression of whatever
kind. Whether delivered by a space plane or other technology, it is of critical importance that we get such a capability. A Military Space
Plane, a Hypersonic cruise vehicle, a Space Operations Vehicle, a Space Based Platform, an Air Launched Global Strike System, and a
Directed Energy Strike System, in part or together could form a systems of systems approach to this problem. The technologies are
critical to avoid escalation of a crisis and to quickly prevent an adversary from coercing neighboring countries.