Wilson, Griffin at Odds Over How to Create Military Space Development Agency

Mike Griffin

Space News reports that Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson and former NASA administrator Mike Griffin, who serves as undersecretary of Defense for Research and Engineering, are at odds over how to create a new space development agency designed to transform how the military creates advanced space technologies.

In her memo, Wilson suggests the Space Development Agency should be organized under the existing Space Rapid Capabilities Office and that it should be geographically and organizationally connected to U.S. Space Command. She recommends using “existing structures designed and chartered to acquire capabilities rapidly, rather than establishing new structures.”

Griffin is proposing a new D.C.-based agency with a staff of 112 government personnel that would report to him initially, but eventually would shift to the control of a new assistant secretary of defense for space, an office that would first have to be approved by Congress.

In Wilson’s plan, the Space Development Agency and other acquisition organizations would transition to the new Department of the Space Force. She pointedly pushes back on the idea of having an assistant secretary of defense for space or a Space Development Agency that reports to that office. She argues that such a setup would create additional bureaucracy that would be removed from the operators who use and maintain the equipment.

The space development agency is part of an effort by the Trump Administration to establish an independent space force within the Department of Defense.

Hyten Backs Plan to Use Decommissioned ICBMs for Satellite Launches

Gen. John E. Hyten
Gen. John E. Hyten

The head of the United States Space Command says he supports the idea of using decommissioned ICBMs to launch commercial satellites.

U.S. Air Force General John Hyten said that spare ICBMs should not be given away for free, nor dumped en masse into the commercial marketplace.

“I would like to figure out how to get some value out of the hundreds of millions investment we have in those excess ICBMs, but we cannot destroy the small launch business in doing that,” said Hyten during a press conference at the Space Symposium in Colorado Springs. “There’s got to be a way to find the sweet spot.”

Hyten noted that the Air Force will not decide the issue, which could affect hundreds of millions of dollars in potential rocket launch orders in coming years. “This is going to be a national policy decision,” he said. Lifting the ban on using mothballed nuclear missiles requires action by Congress.

Orbital ATK is pressing U.S. lawmakers to end a ban on using ICBMs for launching commercial satellites, an initiative that has raised concern among companies, such as Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic, that have invested millions of dollars in potential rival rockets.