Retired Air Force Lt. General Norm Seip as well as retired Marine Corps Brig. Gen and American Security Project CEO Stephen Cheney wrote an op-ed for The Hill, pushing the government to utilize the private sector, particularly innovative companies like SpaceX, in its attempt to find alternatives to its dependence on Russian-made engines to power space launch technology.
The current national security space-launch arrangement for our satellites and other space assets is precarious at best, and may be doomed for complete collapse in as little as a year and a half if something isn’t done to address the booster engine shortage.
Seip and Cheney chided a government panel recommendation which suggested that officials should use billions in taxpayer money to fund research and development for a new engine rather than turning to the private sector.
It’s as if no one in the Department of Defense (DOD) has heard of the already successful American private space industry.
An excellent example is SpaceX’s Falcon 9 launch vehicle, and the soon to be introduced Falcon Heavy. These are capable of taking all DOD satellites into space at the present time. National security launch missions can be performed today without sacrificing any capabilities, spending additional billions of taxpayer dollars on unproven new technology development or deferring missions long into the future. The DOD already knows what SpaceX can do — it has a successful track record with NASA and commercial launches, and that track record should have seen them certified for national security work by now.