Monday, November 05, 2018

Space Force; America's Bolivian Navy

Frankly, I don't care what you do to your ORG Chart. You can move things around and call them what you want - but what are you actually putting money towards, what will it buy, and what will you plan to do with it?

Bolivia - a landlocked nation - has a navy. That does not mean they are on any navalist's benchmark list.

Sure, it isn't fair to use that scenario as a direct parallel to the US space program - we are by almost all measures the #1 space power - but there are a lot of what-ifs and caveats to that #1. Decades of bi-partisan neglect has set us back from what was once a rock-solid structure.

I think everyone has had a little fun with the "Space Force" chatter over the last few months. It is a deadly serious subject, but as to the question if we need a separate service, I'm not totally sold.

I can argue the "pro" side easier than the "con," but only by a little bit.

Here's why; we have yet to do the very basics right first. Step 1: we should have a sovereign capability to execute the entire depth and breadth of space operations.

NASA has been starved for a long time, but has still done great things. For way too long we have had to rely on the Russians. The private sector is stepping up and we are trying to get better - but the nation that went to the moon and back decades ago is just throwing away a competitive advantage that history will not see in a positive light.

Let's get that right, then we can get back to arguing if Space Force should have Air Force ranks, or be the Space Corp with proper Navy ranks.

BZ to John Mosbey over at MWI, he's saying what needs to be said; Congress needs to put its money where its mouth is.
But one thing is missing: congressional support for launching America’s most precious assets—including national security satellites—exclusively from American launch facilities. The sooner we realize the importance of this element, and insist on it, the more secure and economically viable the American space launch sector becomes.

There are, of course, arguments against such action, typically made on ideological grounds—that such a move would amount to protectionism, something inconsistent with American notions of a free market economy. But remember, even Adam Smith, the father of free-market economic theory, believed exceptions should to his theory were justified: he believed, for instance, that subsidies for gunpowder manufacturers made sense if it ensured a ready domestic supply.

Discussions of whether, how and, when to stand up a Space Force, as well as what budget to provide, how to manage potentially splitting the US Air Force, and whether to put older industry players and ideas on waivers so we can field a more robust “US Aerospace Force,” will continue. And they should.

But below that level, important security options do present themselves to Congress. One is more vigorously supporting entrepreneurial, American space launch companies. Yes, we must always consider the inputs of time-proven sources, such as the Air Force Association, and others, but whatever the score on the Space Force, the time is now to get behind small American companies, and keep space launch on US soil.

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