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The Future of Space: Lynn Details DoD Vision, Acquisition Changes

William J. Lynn III, DoD; Photo: dod.gov, aerospaceguide.net

Once the final frontier, space has become “congested, contested and competitive,” Deputy Defense Secretary William J. Lynn III said at the U.S. Strategic Command space symposium in Omaha, Neb.

But the United States isn’t ready to get out of the space game just yet, he said, only that we must change the way we think about space and the way NASA works.

“Congested”

It used to be that the sprint to space innovation was a two-man race: between the United States and the Soviet Union. Now, there are 60 nations with a presence in space, and by 2015, 9,000 satellite transponders will be active, Lynn said.

“Contested”

Gone are the days when the United States can “take the stability or sustainability of space — or access to it — for granted,” Lynn said.

“Many countries can hold space systems at risk through kinetic and nonkinetic means,” he added. Some countries have even jammed satellite signals to block news coverage, highlighting how counterspace capabilities can be used for not only military purposes but political ones as well.

“Competitive”

The United States once owned about 75 percent of global business, Lynn said. Now, the country that first put a man on the moon makes up about 25 percent. And the competition among the stars seems only likely to heighten.

New Space Strategy

The announcement of President Barack Obama’s new space strategy ushered in a new era in the space environment, Lynn said, as well as how the Defense Department will think about and operate in space.

There are four key elements, which lay the foundation for a new National Security Space Strategy, a joint endeavor between DoD and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

One of those elements involves improving the system for space system development and acquisition.

With the current fiscal climate, Lynn said, the United States must become “better buyers of space systems.”

“Block buys and the deliberate management of the engineering work force are two avenues in particular we are actively exploring,” he said. “Block buys have the potential to reduce costs and timelines by creating more predictable demand and allowing larger material buys with fewer spares. Establishing a predictable demand schedule has the added advantage of stabilizing the engineering work force associated with a project.”

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