A Senate committee is requiring the Department of Defense to maximize commercial spaceports to launch small satellites and expand the involvement of commercial capabilities in the agency’s space operations, SpaceNews reported Monday. The Senate Armed Services Committee issued its version of the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2020, which includes amendments to support the growing small launch industry.
The bill would require DoD to create a plan to utilize and modernize infrastructure on underused spaceports that are licensed by the Federal Aviation Administration to support U.S. launches. SASC said the FAA-licensed spaceports could serve as an alternative to Vandenberg Air Force Base in launching small and medium payloads while providing DoD with less costly sites and services.
“Significant investments have been made at inland spaceports, which already have the infrastructure in place to accommodate smaller space launches for the department,” the SASC bill states.
The Senate panel would also require DoD to report plans to take advantage of commercial vehicles and facilities in support of its future operations in space.