February 5, 2011

Defense Dept Releases Space Posture Review

The US Defense Department promised Friday, along with members of the intelligence community, to restructure its business with American suppliers of high-tech hardware that is considered critical for national security.

"We seek to foster a U.S. space industrial base that is robust, competitive, flexible, healthy, and delivers reliable space capabilities on time and on budget," according to an unclassified summary of the new National Security Space Strategy (NSSS).

The summary, released at the Pentagon, states that the defense department and the intelligence community propose better management of investments to make sure the industrial base can maintain "those critical technologies and skills that produce the systems we require."

Some of the Pentagon's top suppliers, including Lockheed Martin, Boeing and Northrop Grumman, could be the largest of the beneficiaries.

Other likely winners in the deal include Orbital Sciences Corp, Ball Corp's Aerospace & Technologies unit, Alliant Techsystems and GenCorp's Aerojet unit, said Philip Finnegan, director of corporate analysis at Teal Group.

The document was jointly signed by Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper.

"The National Security Space Strategy represents a significant departure from past practice," Gates told Reuters in a statement. "It is a pragmatic approach to maintain the advantages we derive from space while confronting the new challenges we face."

Potential adversaries that could exploit US space vulnerabilities are among the challenges the NSSS faces, according to the document.

China raised some concerns with the US about safety of American satellites in January 2007, after it used a ground-based anti-satellite weapon to blow apart one of its own aging weather satellites.

The problems of congestion in space were also underlined when, in 2009, a collision occurred between a Russian government satellite and a commercial satellite owned by US-based Iridium.


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