Military Embedded Systems

Military space launch is key topic at Senate Armed Services Committee


January 28, 2016

Mariana Iriarte

Technology Editor

Military Embedded Systems

Military space launch is key topic at Senate Armed Services Committee
Photo by U.S. Air Force/ Scott M. Ash

WASHINGTON. On January 27, before the Senate Armed Services Committee Air Force Secretary (SecAF) Deborah Lee James and Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics Frank Kendall testified on the use of Russian-made rocket engines and on military space launch, highlighting space capabilities' role in national security, the importance of modernization, and the need for end-to-end space launch services.

“The U.S. relies upon space as an essential element of our national security,” James says. “Space provides us with the ability to operate effectively around the world, to understand what our own forces are doing and to stay ahead of our adversaries. Space is key to projecting credible and effective power around the world to support our allies and deter aggression.”

The Air Force’s number one space priority is to maintain the advantage by modernizing and replenishing space architecture through a reliable launch capability, James says.

“The Department would strongly prefer not to fund a rocket engine alone because a rocket alone will not get us to space,” James continues. “We need an entire capability, not just one single component. We need to expand on our horizon and keep focusing on the launch capability in its totality of which the engine is a key component, but it’s not the only component.”

Air Force officials say that exploring types of rocket propulsion systems in a competitive way could lead to having new competitors and new capabilities for space access.

“There are fantastic developments in the commercial world,” James says. “We are following them, we are celebrating them, and we are putting some of our resources, time and energy toward trying to get them there because we will all benefit from it.”

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