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Small Rockets, New Launch Companies to Help Preserve US Space Resiliency

A Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency official recently said that small launch vehicles like Northrop Grumman’s Pegasus or Rocket Lab’s Electron could contribute to the survivability of U.S. military assets in space, Space News reported Tuesday.

Todd Master, a program adviser at the Tactical Technology Office within DARPA, said during last month’s Small Payload Rideshare Symposium that the growing availability of small rockets and dedicated launches could allow the military to bring about “a massive proliferation of satellites in low Earth orbit.”

Master described this as a resilience strategy that he and his agency “are very interested in.”

Meanwhile, Steve Nixon, vice president for strategic development at aerospace firm Stratolaunch, said that his company and others like it could help strengthen U.S. launch infrastructure.

Nixon pointed out that the country has only two main launch sites: Vandenberg Air Force Base and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

Should these facilities be rendered inoperable, launch companies could offer government agencies alternative means to access space, he said.

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