NASA’s Bill Nelson and Space Force Chief General Raymond: “We believe that a strong commitment from government, industry and science is essential to make this moment h -pen”
WASHINGTON – The US national space security organizations released a report on Nov. 18 suggesting ways to strengthen the country’s space economy and technology base.
The 92-page State of the Space Industrial Base 2021 report was written by senior officials from the US Space Force, the Air Force Research Laboratory, and the Defense Innovation Unit. It summarizes discussions that were held with more than 250 experts from government, industry and academia.
“Although the pace of innovation and investment in the US has reached an all-time high, it will not be sustained without strategic alignment, the robust roll-out of commercial space c -abilities expressed in meaningful contract options, strategic workforce development and attention to fragile domestic delivery lines, and anemic funding to prototype, validate and accelerate innovative and disruptive space c -abilities for national security, ”the report reads.
In a joint statement, NASA Administrator Bill Nelson and Chief of Space Operations General John “Jay” Raymond supported the report.
“Both NASA and the Space Force believe that a strong commitment from government, industry and academia is essential to make this moment h -pen,” the statement said. “This is truly a new era of strategic cooperation that will benefit commercial, civil and national security in space.”
This is the third iteration of the State of the Space Industrial Base report published in 2020 and 2019.
A key message is that the government, particularly the Department of Defense and intelligence agencies, should support the space industry by sourcing commercially-provided services rather than developing systems in-house.
The space industry sees “shaky support from the US government as consumers of commercial products and services,” the report said. “The notable exception here is NASA, which is continuing to increase both its direct investments in and the procurement of commercial space supplies.”
The report criticizes the slow efforts of the US military and intelligence agencies to acquire commercial satellite imagery. “A wide range of space-based earth observation satellite companies have emerged” that can provide a wide range of data products. “However, token investments are not enough, and the slow pace of commercial acquisitions by the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency and the National Reconnaissance Office is creating incentives for US companies to step out of the national security path.”
Another proposal is to develop plans for a “space highway” that uses commercial innovations in space logistics to build infrastructure. “These efforts should be done in close cooperation with NASA,” the report said.
“In terrestrial logistics, the ability to use civil ports, civil fuel, and civil interfaces is a major force multiplier, and the same is true in space.”
The report argues that too much weight and investment is put into launch, but too little c -ital goes into other sectors of the industry such as space logistics and manufacturing, which are essential to building a space economy.