The DoD is proposing legal changes that would allow public/private partnerships to improve and expand its space capabilities and allow the military to directly support the commercial space sector as part of its mission.
Current law “limits DoD to accepting reimbursement from commercial space companies for excess capacity in the form of launch property, facilities, or direct support services,” according to a presentation made to the FAA yesterday. “DoD is not allowed to accept non-DoD funding to enable or improve operation of commercial space launch capabilities, augmentation of DoD capabilities for commercial purposes, or adding commercial requirements to DoD contracts to extend/expand services in support of commercial Space launch activities.”
A key problem is that although provisions require NASA, FAA and the Department of Commerce to “facilitate & provide excess Gov’t launch services and range support to the US commercial space industry,” the DoD owns most of those facilities and services. Current law does not give DoD that same authority or the ability to directly partner with the private sector.
“This legislation will make direct support to the commercial launch industry part of the DoD mission,” Sheare’s presentation states.
The document also says that launch base and range capacity are sized and funded to meet only DOD requirements, with the private sector able to use any excess capacity. Government/industry partnerships would allow the parties to increase capacity, combine resources and share expenses, resulting in lower costs for all.
The proposal has already been submitted to Congress as part of the FY2012 budget proposal, the presentation states. If the measure is approved, non-federal entities would submit proposals early in 2012. The presentation indicates that proposals could come from private companies or non-federal government agencies.