Eleventh hour (8/8/23)
Happy Tuesday. Hope all of our DC-based readers kept their power through that bruiser of a storm last night.
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The Space Command Saga Continues
The Alabama delegation has a clear message for those celebrating last week’s decision to keep US Space Command in Colorado: don’t pop that champagne cork just yet.
Next chapter: For some lawmakers, the Biden administration’s decision to reject DoD’s original selection of Huntsville, AL to host the command marks the loss of a battle, rather than the loss of the war. In the wake of the decision, Alabama lawmakers promised to keep fighting the two-plus year battle for the command (plus the 1,400 jobs and $1B in economic impact it would bring).
“It is clear the Biden administration cares more about advancing their far-left agenda than the security of our nation,” Rep. Jerry Carl (R-AL) tweeted. “We will not give up this fight because Space Command belongs in Huntsville.”
Rep. Mike Rogers (R-AL), who chairs the House Armed Services Committee, is continuing his investigation into the basing decision, including whether politics played a role in placing the command in a blue state, while rejecting the original red state pick. In an Aug. 3 letter, Rogers asked Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall and US Space Command head Gen. James Dickinson for transcripts and other documents related to the HQ decision and how to best meet national security space requirements.
The plan: Rogers wrote that this is his fifth request for the documents, and that he is sick of being ignored. If the DoD officials don’t respond to his satisfaction by tomorrow, Rogers threatened to subpoena both the documents and the officials’ testimony before Congress.
“Your refusal to abide by the committee’s repeated requests for responsive documents and transcribed interviews can only be considered obfuscation and purposeful delay, highlighted by the fact that the basing decision was decided while the committee’s requests are outstanding,” Rogers wrote. “It now appears you have something to hide, otherwise a forthright response to the Committee’s patient and numerous requests would have already come.”
Moving on: The military is proceeding as if its final decision is just that. A Pentagon spokesman said the decision was made to ensure “peak readiness for the space domain,” and that the command is expected to achieve full operational capability this month—a milestone that proves Colorado is the right pick, advocates of the Centennial State argue.
“Colorado Springs is the best place for Space Command because it’s already at work here,” Sen. John Hickenlooper (D-CO) tweeted Sunday. “With the news that it’ll reach full operational capability in August, there’s no doubt our push to keep it here was the right one.”
It’s unclear what recourse the Alabama delegation has, or how they can protest the final decision.
The NDAA includes language that limits the funding for Space Command construction and Air Force secretary travel until the Defense Department reaches a final decision, which has likely become moot. It’s possible the feud could seep into consideration of the annual bill, which will be in conference when lawmakers get back to DC in September, especially because the Alabama delegation has such a powerful advocate in Rogers, but it’s tough to imagine what that might look like.
+Additional reading: The Loss of Space Command Headquarters Brings an Alabama City Down to Earth, New York Times
The Secret Sauce to Satellite Manufacturing
Over the last five years, the demand for small satellite manufacturing has skyrocketed, fueled by their cost-effectiveness and versatility across a broad range of applications, including EO, defense, communications, and scientific research.
However, meeting demand in a timely and reliable manner is a challenge for the industry.
As a prime contractor operating within this burgeoning sector, Millennium Space Systems leverages decades of experience and a streamlined production system to help meet the ever-growing customer demand. The synergistic approach has enabled Millennium’s small satellite manufacturing to hit its stride, increasing its speed of production to a trajectory resembling Moore’s Millennium’s Law.
2011 Rapid Pathfinder: 24 months
2019 Tetra-1: 13 months
2023 Victus Nox: 8 months
Library of Cosmos
NOAA lifted restrictions on some commercial remote sensing restrictions.
Japan adopted a space security policy that would boost defense uses of the domain.
China is eager to establish a legal framework for warfare as it ramps up its space goals.
South America’s growing interest in space could be good for US Southern Command, the commander said.
See You Tomorrow!
The Payload team is excited to host a webinar on “Automation vs. Manual Action in Satellites.” In this conversation, we will discuss satellite companies and how they are dealing with automation vs. manual tasks within their operations.
Tweet of the week
Junk is a problem in space just like it is on Earth.
The Orbits Act will allow us to properly clean up space junk that threatens to crash into satellites that perform critical functions in the people of Wyoming's daily lives.
— Senator Cynthia Lummis (@SenLummis)
Aug 3, 2023