Éditoriaux Défense Sécurité Terrorisme Zones de conflits Logistique Livres de référence Liens
Terre Air Mer Gendarmerie Renseignement Infoguerre Cyber Recherche

DoD Works to Build Competition Into Space Launches

DoD Works to Build Competition Into Space Launches

By Cheryl Pellerin, DoD News, Defense Media Activity.
Washington D.C. — (DoD News) — March 19, 2015 — Space capability is critical to national security, and the Defense Department is working to make its launch program more competitive and end its longtime use of a Russian rocket engine on the Atlas launch system, the assistant secretary of defense for acquisition said this week.

Katrina G. McFarland testified before the House Armed Services Committee’s strategic forces subcommittee March 17 on options for assuring domestic space access.

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launches the Deep Space Climate Observatory for DSCOVR

Joining her were Gen. John E. Hyten, commander of Air Force Space Command, and William A. LaPlante, assistant secretary of the Air Force for acquisition.

“Our defense space capabilities are central to our national security,” McFarland said in written testimony.

According to law, she added, the Defense Department must sustain at least two launch vehicles that can deliver any national security payload into space, and it must maintain a robust space-launch infrastructure and industrial base.

Following Critical Standards

In the late 1990s, a string of Titan IV launch failures cost the nation more than $5 billion in hardware and three national security payloads, McFarland said. In his written testimony, Hyten said he remembers the failures.

“I remember how we took our eyes off the ball, off the critical standards we must follow to ensure every single launch has the highest probability for success,” he said.

Such standards and a certification process were incorporated into the follow-on launch effort, called the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle program, the general added, and national security launches have had no major failures since 1999.

The EELV program gives the Air Force and the National Reconnaissance Office the capability and launch vehicles to get national security and defense satellites into orbit. The satellites often cost more than $1 billion, take years to build and have life cycles of a decade or more. They give critical support for weather, mapping, military communications, intelligence and surveillance, according to the United Launch Alliance, or ULA.

EELV Launch Successes

In 2014, Hyten said, the Atlas V and Delta IV launch vehicles executed 13 launches, nine of which supported national security missions, extending the record of EELV total launch successes to 78 as of this month. Since 2006, the general added, the department has relied on a single industrial partner, ULA, to safely launch its national security payloads.

ULA is a 50-50 joint venture between Lockheed Martin and Boeing formed in 2006 to provide reliable access to space for U.S. government missions, using Atlas and Delta launch vehicles. In 2012, McFarland said, the Air Force and the Office of the Secretary of Defense restructured the EELV program because of concerns about the rising cost of domestic space launch.

A Transition to Competition

The new strategy allowed for competition between ULA and new entrants to the EELV program as soon as the commercial launch companies can be certified for national security launches, the assistant secretary said. The restructure also allowed the Air Force to negotiate with and award ULA a contract for launch services using 36 EELV launch vehicles, called cores, over five years, she added.

“This contract award had two significant impacts,” McFarland said. “It effectively stabilized significant portions of the U.S. launch industrial base, and [it] saved the DoD and taxpayers more than $4.4 billion when compared to the fiscal year 2012 … budget baseline.”

The government requires commercial companies that want to use their vehicles for national security space launches to become certified launch providers, using systems that have undergone rigorous and repeated testing and mission assurance procedures with government oversight.

A Growing Market

Hyten said the commercial space-launch market is growing and that U.S. commercial companies want to invest in and compete for government national security launch contracts.

“The U.S. government now has an opportunity to leverage the commercial launch market more than we have in the past,” the general added, “to drive price points on the [national security] launch solution that would be more competitive for commercial launch.”

Another priority for DoD and the Air Force, he said, is to end the longtime use of the Russian RD-180 engine on the Atlas V expendable launch system.

“I fundamentally believe that every American rocket should be powered by an American engine,” Hyten told the panel. “It's really that simple.”

Assured Access to Space

About 18 years ago, McFarland said, DoD selected the Atlas V with the Russian RD-180 engine as a cost-effective way to meet the national space transportation policy of assured access to space. In 1995, there were sound policy and cost-saving reasons for that decision, she added, but today the department is committed to efficiently and affordably eliminating its use of Russian propulsion systems.

In compliance with the fiscal year 2015 National Defense Authorization Act, which restricts the use of Russian RD-180 engines for ULA’s Atlas V rocket, McFarland said, “We have reevaluated our use of the Russian manufactured RD-180 rocket engine.”

McFarland said that as an initial step, the department reprogrammed $40 million to start engine risk-reduction activities, and that these funds, along with $220 million added by Congress in fiscal 2015 legislation, will finance critical work on rocket propulsion systems.

U.S. Rocket Propulsion Systems

LaPlante said the defense authorization act also directs the defense secretary to develop a U.S.-made rocket propulsion system no later than 2019. The Air Force agrees that it needs to transition off the RD-180 as quickly as possible, he said, but “the objective of 2019 is very aggressive and does not result in what is ultimately required -- a launch vehicle and the supporting infrastructure so the Air Force can order launch services from industry.”

The act also prohibits the defense secretary from awarding or renewing an EELV contract if it is performed using Russian-made engines, with certain exceptions. “This prohibition … delays meaningful competition until we reach our ultimate goal of two domestic, commercially competitive launch service providers able to support the entire national security space manifest,” LaPlante said.

DoD, Industry Partnership

LaPlante described a four-step approach to accomplish the goal, developed with input from industry. It involves shared investment with industry in innovative public-private partnerships, he noted, selected through competition and able to support the entire national security launch manifest. “We will continue to refine this approach as we gain further insight from expertise across government, academia and industry,” he said.

(Follow Cheryl Pellerin on Twitter @PellerinDoDNews)

Related Biographies :
Katrina G. McFarland
Air Force Gen. John E. Hyten
William A. LaPlante

Related Sites :
Air Force Space Command
Special Report: National Security Space Strategy
The Defense Department on Facebook
The Defense Department on Twitter
DoD News on Twitter
DoDLive Blog
DoD News Broadcast Channel

Derniers articles

Verdun 2016 : La légende de la « tranchée des baïonnettes »
Eyes in the Dark: Navy Dive Helmet Display Emerges as Game-Changer
OIR Official: Captured Info Describes ISIL Operations in Manbij
Cyber, Space, Middle East Join Nuclear Triad Topics at Deterrence Meeting
Carter Opens Second DoD Innovation Hub in Boston
Triomphe de St-Cyr : le Vietnam sur les rangs
Dwight D. Eisenhower Conducts First OIR Missions from Arabian Gulf
L’amiral Prazuck prend la manœuvre de la Marine
Airmen Practice Rescuing Downed Pilots in Pacific Thunder 16-2
On ne lutte pas contre les moustiques avec une Kalachnikov...
Enemy Mine: Underwater Drones Hunt Buried Targets, Save Lives
Daesh Publications Are Translated Into Eleven Languages
Opération Chammal : 10 000 heures de vol en opération pour les Mirage 2000 basés en Jordanie
Le Drian : Daech : une réponse à plusieurs niveaux
Carter: Defense Ministers Agree on Next Steps in Counter-ISIL Fight
Carter Convenes Counter-ISIL Coalition Meeting at Andrews
Carter Welcomes France’s Increased Counter-ISIL Support
100-Plus Aircraft Fly in for Exercise Red Flag 16-3
Growlers Soar With B-1s Around Ellsworth AFB
A-10s Deploy to Slovakia for Cross-Border Training
We Don’t Fight Against Mosquitoes With a Kalashnikov
Bug-Hunting Computers to Compete in DARPA Cyber Grand Challenge
Chiefs of US and Chinese Navies Agree on Need for Cooperation
DoD Cyber Strategy Defines How Officials Discern Cyber Incidents from Armed Attacks
Vice Adm. Tighe Takes Charge of Information Warfare, Naval Intelligence
Truman Strike Group Completes Eight-Month Deployment
KC-46 Completes Milestone by Refueling Fighter Jet, Cargo Plane
Air Dominance and the Critical Role of Fifth Generation Fighters
Une nation est une âme
The Challenges of Ungoverned Spaces
Carter Salutes Iraqi Forces, Announces 560 U.S. Troops to Deploy to Iraq
Obama: U.S. Commitment to European Security is Unwavering in Pivotal Time for NATO
International Court to Decide Sovereignty Issue in South China Sea
La SPA 75 est centenaire !
U.S. to Deploy THAAD Missile Battery to South Korea
Maintien en condition des matériels : reprendre l’initiative
La veste « léopard », premier uniforme militaire de camouflage
Océan Indien 2016 : Opérations & Coopération
Truman Transits Strait of Gibraltar
Navy Unveils National Museum of the American Sailor
New Navy, Old Tar
Marcel Dassault parrain de la nouvelle promotion d’officiers de l’École de l’Air
RIMPAC 2016 : Ravitaillement à la mer pour le Prairial avant l’arrivée à Hawaii
Bataille de la Somme, l’oubliée
U.S., Iceland Sign Security Cooperation Agreement
Cléopatra : la frégate Jean Bart entre dans l’histoire du BPC Gamal Abdel Nasser
Surveiller l’espace maritime français aussi par satellite
America's Navy-Marine Corps Team Fuse for RIMPAC 2016
Stratégie France : Plaidoyer pour une véritable coopération franco-allemande
La lumière du Droit rayonne au bout du chemin

Directeur de la publication : Joël-François Dumont
Comité de rédaction : Jacques de Lestapis, Hugues Dumont, François de Vries (Bruxelles), Hans-Ulrich Helfer (Suisse), Michael Hellerforth (Allemagne).
Comité militaire : VAE Guy Labouérie (†), GAA François Mermet (2S), CF Patrice Théry (Asie).