Spacelift Washington: Commission to Recommend Military Space Boost, New Programs

By frank_sietzen
January 10, 2001
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Spacelift Washington

Spacelift Washingon Archive

WASHINGTON – Jan. 10 – A Congressionally-mandated report due for release Thursday will recommend major increases in Pentagon spending on military space projects, including a new central management structure for space inside the White House and the Pentagon, the ability for the U.S. Air Force to send pilots into space on manned reconnaissance, and emplacement of laser weapons in orbit to deter aggression. The report should be welcome music to the incoming Secretary of Defense -who after all was the head of the commission that wrote the report.

The Commission to Assess U.S. National Security Space Management and Organization was established last year to review existing military space operations and recommend changes that could strengthen U.S. national security interests. Headed by Donald Rumsfeld, the Secretary of Defense-designate for the incoming Bush administration, the commission studied both current and previous approaches to defense-related space projects. According to an executive summary shown to Spacelift Washington the report recommends:

  • Creation of a National Space Council in the Executive Office of the President and a Defense Space Council in the Pentagon to oversee all U.S. space programs and space operations
  • Establishment of the U.S. Air Force as the executive agent to implement all military space programs. The report will recommend that consideration of a separate space service be reviewed on an annual basis or as a new branch of the Air Force
  • Enhanced defense capability for U.S. government and commercial satellites
  • Development of a mid-range anti-satellite laser system to be based in the southwest
  • Develop the capability to interdict foreign satellites with minimum preparation time, i.e. military spaceplane and reusable, maneuvering upper stages
  • Advance the launch of a prototype of a Space-based Laser
  • Advance research on developing new generations of anti-satellite space systems
  • Substantial increases to R&D budgets for advanced military space systems
  • Review the political implications of deploying offensive space weapons

Rumsfeld’s commission report will strongly urge the Bush administration to make control of space a major priority. But effective space control will require the development and deployment of several new classes of space launch and weapons programs that previous Pentagon managers have shied away from during the Clinton administration. With the exception of EELV and SBIRS there has been no major new start milspace project in the past eight years-and SBIRS is in deep trouble and EELV has become a commercial project.

The report was mandated last year by Congress and is part of a growing emphasis on the use of space for both defensive and offensive military purposes. The effort comes following renewed military space programs of other nations, with some of these developments of possible concern to the Pentagon. The newspaper Sing Tao Jih Pao in Hong Kong reported last week that China had placed new emphasis on development of microsatellite prototypes that could damage other satellites and be adapted in anti-satellite roles.

A similar effort by the Air Force was vetoed by President Clinton in 1996.

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