Trump Administration Objects to Defense Bill Provisions on Space Corps, EELV Development


The Trump Administration and the House Armed Services Committee are on a collision course over four space- and rocket-related provisions in the fNational Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for fiscal year 2018 (FY 2018).

Specifically, the administration is objecting to the following provisions:

  • the establishment of a separate space corps within the U.S. Air Force (USAF);
  • limitations on the funding of new rocket engines for the Air Force’s Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) program;
  • a prohibition on the Pentagon procurement of transponder services on commercial satellites launched on Russian rockets; and,
  • requirements that the Defense Department find multiple suppliers for individual components of solid rocket missile systems.

Supporters of the space corps believes it would allow the U.S. Air Force to better focus its space operations. The administration argues it needs more time to weight its options.

“As directed by the FY 2017 NDAA, the Administration is assessing a wide range of organizational options, including a Space Corps. The creation of a separate Space Corps, however, is premature at this time,” the administration said in a statement.

“Upon completion of these analyses, the Administration looks forward to working with Congress to implement military space organizational changes (while considering the budget implications) in a practical timeframe to best posture the Nation’s joint forces to meet the challenges of the 21st Century,” the statement added.

The NDAA’s provision on EELV’s would limit the U.S. Air Force’s spending to new rocket engines and modifications to existing launch vehicles. Congress wants the program focused on fielding a replacement for the Russian-produced RD-180 motors that power United Launch Alliance’s (ULA) Atlas V booster.

Air Force officials want a broader program that would allow it to spend provide funds to companies developing new launch vehicles. For example, ULA is developing a new booster called Vulcan that is designed to replace Atlas V and the company’s heavy-lift (and very expensive) Delta IV rocket.

“The provision limits domestic competition, which will increase taxpayer costs by several billions of dollars through FY 2027 and stifle innovation,” the administration said in its statement. “It also ignores key recommendations of the Committee’s independent panel of experts, who proposed broad funding at the launch-system level.”

Another provision would prohibit the Defense Department from obtaining satellite services aboard spacecraft launched aboard Russian rockets.  The prohibition is designed to improve cyber security.

“For satellite communications services, three-quarters of services acquired today are from foreign-incorporated companies that make widespread use of international launch vehicles,” the administration said in opposing the provision.

A Congressional effort to expand the nation’s industrial base for large solid rocket motors also drew a strong objection from the Trump Administration. The provision is aimed at providing multiple sources for components of the missiles.

“The large solid rocket motor industrial base has many single sources for components and materials. In many cases, the quantities of systems, subsystems, or components or materials acquired by DOD are not sufficient to support multiple suppliers,” the administration said.

“In addition, if a second source for these materials is required, it would trigger requalification on not only the rocket motor, but also the entire missile. This would be cost prohibitive to DOD, totaling nearly $1 billion,” the statement added.

The administration’s full statements about space- and rocket-related provisions follow.

Statement of Administration Policy

H.R. 2810 – National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018
(Rep. Thornberry, R-TX, and Rep. Smith, D-WA)

Establishment of Space Corps in the Department of the Air Force: The Administration appreciates the Committee’s concerns with the organization and management of DOD’s space capabilities as reflected in section 1601, which calls for the establishment of a separate Space Corps within the Department of the Air Force. As the Secretary of Defense has testified, the Administration recognizes the criticality of our access to and use of space, and we understand the increasing threats posed to our continued use of space capabilities. As directed by the FY 2017 NDAA, the Administration is assessing a wide range of organizational options, including a Space Corps. The creation of a separate Space Corps, however, is premature at this time. Upon completion of these analyses, the Administration looks forward to working with Congress to implement military space organizational changes (while considering the budget implications) in a practical timeframe to best posture the Nation’s joint forces to meet the challenges of the 21st Century.

Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) Modernization and Sustainment of Assured Access to Space: The Administration strongly objects to section 1615, which would restrict development of new space launch systems, including those whose development is significantly funded by industry, in exclusive favor of rocket engines and modifications to existing launch vehicles. The provision limits domestic competition, which will increase taxpayer costs by several billions of dollars through FY 2027 and stifle innovation. It also ignores key recommendations of the Committee’s independent panel of experts, who proposed broad funding at the launch-system level. The Administration’s innovative, agile approach has already saved taxpayers $300 million and is the quickest path to delivering modern, domestic, cost-effective launch capabilities that will support national security requirements for decades to come. This provision would make the Administration’s strategy impossible to execute, causing delays in transitioning from Russian engines and increased risks to continued assured access to space.

Foreign Commercial Satellite Services: Cybersecurity Threats and Launches: The Administration strongly objects to section 1612, which would limit the Department’s ability to procure satellite services from foreign entities. It also would prohibit entering into a contract for satellite services with any entity if such services will be provided using satellites launched from, or designed or manufactured in, a covered foreign country or by an entity controlled by the government of a covered foreign country, regardless of the location of the launch. For satellite communications services, three-quarters of services acquired today are from foreign-incorporated companies that make widespread use of international launch vehicles.

Industrial Base for Large Solid Rocket Motors and Related Technologies: The Administration strongly objects to section 1699, which would require the Secretary of Defense to pursue multiple sources for the various components of modern solid rocket missile systems. The large solid rocket motor industrial base has many single sources for components and materials. In many cases, the quantities of systems, subsystems, or components or materials acquired by DOD are not sufficient to support multiple suppliers. In addition, if a second source for these materials is required, it would trigger requalification on not only the rocket motor, but also the entire missile. This would be cost prohibitive to DOD, totaling nearly $1 billion.

  • Andrew Tubbiolo

    As to section 1612 if there is a time to really stick it to the Russians and lop off part of their industrial base, now is the time. After what Space X has done to their launch manifest and the decay of their workforce, the application of section 1612 could turn into a major pressure point against any satellite operator launching on a Russian rocket. I think it’s worth trying, and with the administration in the middle of a Russia scandal, they might have a hard time turning this one off. Funny how the administration that made political hay about brining work home from overseas turns its back on the prospect of cementing Space X’s gains at bringing satellite launch into the United States in a way that it never has been largely at Russia’s expense. Isn’t that just what the new administration says it wants to do? Bring work into the United States at the expense of other nations?

  • Andrew Tubbiolo

    As to part 1699 …. Sure, and I want to bring back McDonnell Douglass, Republic, and North American. Sorry, the administration is right on this one. The economy of solid fuel is just too small. The real result of sourcing a 2nd source would be to bring in the Europeans as the 2nd source. Once that happens, in a future administration, the pressure would be to downselect to one. Given how much more effective Europeans are at protectionism than we are, the outcome would likely be OATK going away and we wind up buying our solid rocket fuel from the Europeans who no doubt would do small batch production in South Carolina to make us feel better.

  • Andrew Tubbiolo

    1601 … It’s just not really time. Space command is fine for now. Let the future firm up what a new branch really needs to look like.

  • Andrew Tubbiolo

    1615 … So much to say back and forth. With Space X’s example of what CAN be done, and comparing that to what ULA and the primes WON’T do … at an emotional level I want to lash out at them and kick them into using their own money to develop Vulcan. However I don’t want Space X to have a monopoly, and the Vulcan – N Glenn synergy is interesting to see how that will play out. I think a good compromise would be for Vulcan to be funded in direct proportion that NASA directly paid for Falcon 9.

  • passinglurker

    To be fair SpaceX also benefits from the airforce program. They want to pay spaceX to make larger fairings and a raptor based upper stage.

  • duheagle

    Given that NASA paid little if anything towards Falcon 9, that would suit me just fine. Most of NASA’s COTS development money went toward designing and building Dragon, not Falcon 9.

    The proposed new Space Corps is the minimum change to current armed services organization that needs to happen. It shouldn’t be held up by doing more pointless “analysis.” The necessary analysis has long since been done by people who’ve been appalled at USAF’s institutionally impacted cluelessness about space threats and rational responses for a very long time.

    The infamous Chinese ASAT test happened ten years ago. Yet we still have no counter to such weapons in service, in design or even proposed by USAF. If the Army had taken a similarly head-in-the-sand approach to air power in the 20’s and 30’s, the U.S. would have entered WW2 with nothing but wood and fabric biplanes and not very damned many of those.

    Yet the Army was still indifferent enough to air power during the inter-war years that there was ample justification for standing up an independent U.S. Air Force after WW2. There is an even better case for standing up a U.S. Space Corps – or even a fully independent U.S. Space Force now.

    The Trump administration should get out of the way of the Space Corps proposal’s passage and prompt implementation.

    Congress has apparently not given up trying to micromanage DoD contractor efforts. There is a certain faction that simply wants ULA to be made to put AJR’s AR-1 on the Atlas V and abandon Vulcan.

    The Trump administration needs to swat this down. Given that many of the same people behind this effort are also behind the push for a Space Corps, there seems to be a good opportunity for the Trump administration to rescind opposition to the Space Corps in return for the abandonment of these retrogressive EELV proposals.

    Restricting use of comsats launched on Russian rockets based on cybersecurity concerns is not totally nutty, but it would be nice to know if there’s actually any basis for suspecting the existence of covert Russian-installed back doors into any such. Given what the U.S. is now known to have done anent tapping Russian undersea cables during the Cold War, one can hardly dismiss the notion out of hand. But it would be nice to know whether implementing this proposal would be relatively easy – switching U.S. military bandwidth contracts over from Russian-launched birds to alternatives with similar coverage – or not.

    In the meantime, it would make more sense just to restrict use of such birds for military traffic of high sensitivity. There are plenty of GEO comsats. Given that a rapidly increasing percentage of them are being launched with U.S. rockets from U.S. soil, this seems like a potential problem certain to abate into insignificance fairly soon.

    That is especially true given the multiple LEO comsat constellations to be deployed in the next few years. Iridium’s new constellation and SpaceX’s much larger constellation, for example, will both be entirely launched by U.S. rockets from U.S. soil. OneWeb might have a problem in that regard as a significant number of their birds are set to go up on Soyuz rockets.

    The Trump administration should not flatly oppose this initiative, but should try to modify it along the lines just suggested.

    The reason there are no second sources for many ICBM-scale solid-propellant missile components – especially the motors – is that it’s been three decades since the U.S. last fielded a new ICBM. One can blame USAF for that as much as for its dereliction anent space asset defense. Personally, I think we need a U.S. Strategic Rocket Forces in addition to a Space Corps.

    The ICBM’s currently on station were designed and built over 50 years ago, though they have been “facelifted” a number of times since. If the U.S. had designed and deployed a new ICBM every few years during this interval, there would likely not have been the shrinkage to essentially a single provider (Orbital-ATK) that we see today. Competition, in turn, would have kept unit prices down.

    It’s still possible to reverse this situation if USAF – or my notional USSRF – were to mandate the design and building of a badly-needed modern replacement for the geriatric Minuteman III. Have a fly-off of prototypes to pick the best design. The loser would still be in line to get some of the production contract, just like what was done anent fighter and bomber production in WW2.

    AJR, for example, could be a competitor for O-ATK. One of the predecessor companies of AJR, for instance, once built solid-propellant motors even bigger than what O-ATK built for Shuttle or is now building for SLS. Given AJR’s parlous current circumstances, it might well take up such an opportunity with alacrity. A reasonably steady stream of ICBM business would also make cancelling SLS far less consequential anent employment in key states and Congressional districts.

    Again, the Trump administration needs to work with the sponsors of the current proposal to steer things in a more beneficial direction, overall, instead of simply opposing it.

    Trump is our first wheeler-dealer President. He needs to do some wheeling and dealing.

  • duheagle

    No, Space Command is not fine for now. Space Corps, or even better, a fully independent Space Force, should have been stood up a decade or more ago.

  • duheagle

    I don’t agree. There are 450 Minuteman III’s that need replacing. Each replacement needs at least a 1st and a 2nd stage motor. That’s 900 good-size solid-propellant motors. If a new ICBM type is designed every, say, 10 years, that’s an average production rate of 90 motors a year. 90 ICBM motors probably need even more solid propellant than the average of 10 SLS SRB segments O-ATK will be making if SLS flies once a year. If SLS, as I expect, flies more like every two or three years – assuming it flies at all – that would be an average of three to five SLS SRB segments per year.

    There’s enough potential work there to keep two companies in business – though the two companies in question might not be any of the legacy providers. But let’s say the two companies are O-ATK and AJR. As with B-17’s and other aircraft types during WW2, the competitors would make their own designs, fly them off against one another and then the loser would still get a share of the production contract for the winner’s design. The loser would get a larger minority share of production if it could produce at a lower cost than the winner.

  • duheagle

    Market forces are already accomplishing the progressive marginalization and extinction of Russia as a viable commercial launch services provider. SpaceX is the current beneficiary – and cause – of most of this. When Blue Origin debuts New Glenn, the coup de grace will certainly be delivered – assuming ILS hasn’t expired in the interim. The new incarnation of Sea Launch looks quite unlikely to succeed. The proposed prohibition wouldn’t materially advance the process of decay in the Russian commercial launch business.

    The real question is, could the U.S. military conveniently move its commercial comsat bandwidth contracts off any birds launched in Russia or on Russian rockets onto extant alternatives that were not? I don’t know the answer to this. It would be interesting to get one.

  • Andrew Tubbiolo

    The situation was far worse in the past, and the times did not call for a space command then. By the 70’s, the Soviet ASAT was a deployed system with launch vehicles sitting in a warehouse ready to launch. This was when the USSR was launching something to orbit every 2 to 3 days. There’s a lot we don’t know about the state of the Chinese ASAT other than the fact that it’s pop-up, and from the pics I’ve seen, it’s huge. Another point that stood out to me about that test were the indications that the civilian government in China may not have been fully in the loop as to the development and actual test of the system. It may have been a independent effort of the PLARF. Is the Chinese system a prototype or is it deployed? The question is how to respond? We have several tests (most are failures) against ballistic missiles and 3 attempts at satellites with two of them being misses. Then there was the pot-shot (flyby) of the ISS. But that still raises the question as to how to respond? The assets at risk now are imaging and radar reconnaissance platforms. GPS, SBIR, and communications are all out of reach of current and observed Chinese or Russian systems. In the past, US policy was to replace these units in a crisis. I don’t know how much one might buy into the prospect of launching a Titan III E under conditions of a Cold War era nuclear emergency, but that’s what the USAF said it was going to do in response to the Soviet ASAT threat. Such a response is much more credible with Falcon 9. That system has demonstrated our first glimpses at what a reconstitution effort under crisis might look like. And they’re getting better. If you don’t want to limit yourself to replacing lost units, if you want to fire back, or protect your assets, then you need systems in flight. You’d need something like the old ‘Brilliant Pebbles’ concept from the old SDI days. Ideally, you’d want to intercept systems like the SC-19 and S-500 as they ascend. Or perhaps more sane might be to deploy KH-1X and Lacrosse platforms with brilliant pebbles such that the missile brakes into a intercept trajectory while the platform maneuvers to avoid the debris field from any intercepted ascending ASATS. How credible is that concept? ???? At least for head on engagements and that’s what it seems SC-19 and S-500 will be. The question is does that constitute a need for a Space Corps? I’m not convinced. If the future, real word, response to the danger is mainly in the form of responsive space lift and the outfitting of large platforms in LEO with kinetic defense capabilities, I just don’t see the need for a new branch of the armed forces. Responsive launch looks and acts like a slow version of the Air Mobility Command. We don’t have a separate air force to deal with the timely movement of military equipment by air. In fact given current systems and believable volume of traffic, I’d say the real world equivalent to use as an example is CRAF the Civil Reserve Air Fleet, where minimally modified civilian cargo aircraft are used to assist the Air Mobility Command deploy forces into war zones.

    Perhaps you can make an argument that in the future combat in space will be more along the lines of strategic nuclear weapons where you have assets in place ready to go, in this case co-orbital ASAT sitting close by it’s target. However, we’ve demilitarized that kind of warfare with our nuclear forces, where the nuclear forces of the Navy and Air Force are under the command of the Strategic Command. And if you look at that setup, I think you’ll see what a Space Corps would really look like. A bunch of fat civilians most over 40 years of age who will only see combat once in their lives if it ever came down to it. And that combat will constitute executing scripts written years before the battle.

  • Andrew Tubbiolo

    We built a monopoly in solid fuels while refueling Minuteman, and the Tridents. It’s an ongoing process. The real driver for two solid fuels manufacturing shops was/would be Shuttle style SRB’s. If you want two shops again, OATK’s all solids-all-the-time satellite launch vehicle is the way to go. However, correct me if I’m wrong, even with STS, solids production was consolidated in Utah after United Technologies shut down the Chemical Systems Division. Developing a new ICBM won’t change too much, unless it’s a re-hash of Peacekeeper. Given the limits of START, you can bet that the old road mobile, single warhead, Midgetman will be considered.

  • Andrew Tubbiolo

    Gosh, I don’t see how the Russians could not put a bug on a commsat without something showing up on the moment of inertia of the vehicle and as an extra power draw. Not to mention how the heck you make a small transponder and high gain antenna to relay the tapped information back down to the ground? I don’t fear the Russians tapping our satellites, I just want to starve Russian industrial capability. And I really enjoy watching Trump play lapdog to his beloved Putin as they bend over backwards on this issue.

  • windbourne

    S/weight/weigh/.

  • windbourne

    Space corps is a big mistake. While China’s astronauts are actually military ( as is their space program ), I am not sure that we want to go there . Yet.

  • windbourne

    It is not Trump that is fighting space corps, but the military. They are watching China and developing many side devices.

  • windbourne

    Don’t forget trident. Upgrades are good.

  • windbourne

    Yeah, except not wild about making more of a fool out of trump. After all, he is the president. Well, for about 6 months more or less.

  • Andrew Tubbiolo

    See my other responses, but consider the Chinese model is not even a command but rather a special division of artillery. The Russians have just made the jump, but from what I’ve seen it looks like a re-hash of the old Soviet Strategic Rocket Forces, which makes sense since the Russian military does not use civilians to operate their launch vehicles.

  • Andrew Tubbiolo

    The presidency is overrated, don’t forget it’s only a co-equal of 3 branches of government. At least by Constitution. Don’t give into the human desire to equate the body of a person with that of the nation. Don’t forget the tagline of the founding. “No More Kings.” Remeber? “New World Order” was another from the late 1700’s. It meant the passing of the era of royalty.

    If you want to equate the body of a person with that of the nation, then you’re in for hard times ahead. Because this guy is a heavy lifter when it comes to making a fool of the office of the president.

  • Andrew Tubbiolo

    I did not know about the sider faring work. Is that funded now, or is that proposed in the current cycle?

    If I were ULA, I’d be looking at putting ACES on Falcon and New Glenn. It’s their most compelling piece of notional hardware going right now. Vulcan is looking much less compelling in light of Falcon’s current performance and the credibility that lends to what New Glenn is projected to be.

  • Paul451

    The proposed “space corps” isn’t about astronauts, its about satellites and rockets.

  • Paul451

    Given what the U.S. is now known to have done anent tapping Russian undersea cables

    I’ve been meaning to ask for awhile, is this misuse of “anent” a US regional thing, something you grew up with?

  • publiusr

    What I’m worried about now is that the USAF will be released from space duties–but still get the blank checks–and the Space Corp remains underfunded.

    These fighter jocks need to die off.

  • windbourne

    Better to get costs much lower before we go that route.
    And no, the house members DO want to have military astronauts in space.

  • Vladislaw

    U.S. House Backs $696 Billion Bill Boosting Fighter Jets

    Roxana Tiron (Bloomberg Government)
    July 14, 2017, 10:42 AM CDT

    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-07-14/u-s-house-backs-696-billion-bill-boosting-fighter-jets-troops

  • Vladislaw

    Did you listen to the hearing Cruz put on for commercial space?

  • passinglurker

    I belive ula’s hands are tied there. The parents don’t want ula selling payloads or components only transportation services

    Also launching ACES on falcon means having to stop and fit out a launch pad with hydrogen which at spacex’s launch rate is very expensive.

  • passinglurker

    Got a quote? Something like “I want space marines god dammit” -a congressman probably

  • windbourne

    no. why?

  • publiusr

    That’s sick.

  • duheagle

    Are you a Brit?

    In the U.S. “anent” is a short, single-word equivalent of the phrase “with respect to” that I’m attempting to popularize as an alternative to the phone-texting-originated acronymic abomination “WRT.”

    I realize that in British usage “anent” has a slightly different meaning. But since there are almost five times as many of we Yanks as there are of you Brits, I think it is we who get to define nominal usage of “anent” and its usage by you lot as the “regional thing.”

    No offense meant, but we Yanks took over The Language well before we also took over the U.K.’s former Rule of the Waves.

  • duheagle

    They are watching China and developing many side devices.

    I really have no idea at all what you mean here. I strongly suspect I’m not alone in this. Please restate or elaborate.

    I don’t think “MBAs chasing short-term stock based profits” is actually that much of a current problem within the Military-Industrial Complex. There haven’t been any profits to chase.

    Lockmart, Northrop Grumman and AJR have all had declines in profits. AJR’s have been quite low for a long time. Boeing’s are up modestly over recent levels, but hardly in record territory.

    Boeing, though, is also the only one of these four companies that makes anything of significance for civilian markets. That probably says something fairly important about MIC companies right there. Even with all this cost-plus stuff going on, the MIC-sters still can’t make much money, MBA’s or no MBA’s.

  • duheagle

    I’m with passinglurker on this one. Provide a link – if you can. You have a notable tendency to over-assume.

    I’ve read quite a bit on this issue including a lot of quotes from Rep. Mike Rogers who is ramrodding this whole Space Corps effort. I have seen zero mention of “space marines” or anything else that might refer to humans in space. Rogers wants our space assets actively defended. So do I. The man’s first name is Mike, not “Buck.”

  • duheagle

    I don’t know what the production rates are for Minuteman III and Trident II D5 replacement/upgrade motors. I’ve been able to find nothing at all about this on-line. I suspect the production rate is lower than would be the case for new production of improved missiles on a ten-year development cycle.

    I hadn’t initially considered SLBM replacements on the same schedule, but there seems no reason not to treat them in the same fashion. That simply improves the business case for a two-supplier competitive acquisition environment.

    There are fewer Trident II D5’s deployed than Minuteman III’s, but only by 100 or so. That number will decline starting in 2031 when 12 16-silo Columbia-class boats start replacing the 14 24-silo Ohio-class boats. But it is anticipated taking until 2085 to halve the number of deployed SSBN silos so this is not a near-term concern.

    I think the 10-year SLBM development cycle should be staggered by five years relative of that of ICBM’s to keep the development workload, as well as the production workload, as level as possible.

    Building a new class of ICBM and SLBM every decade would, I think, eliminate any need for subsequent replacement engines. New missiles would simply replace older missiles, incrementally, over said decade. Once a new generation entirely replaced an older generation on alert, it would, itself, begin to have its oldest-serving members replaced by the first of a successor generation of missiles. This would keep production consistent and allow no deployed missile to be more than a decade old.

    In an age of increasingly pervasive overhead surveillance, road-mobility for ICBM’s is pointless – even counter-productive. Future ICBM’s should be installed in existing Minuteman holes. Perhaps the holes can be beefed up, a few at a time, to withstand closer hits, but I favor installing a lot of point defenses and an extensive layered, ground-based ABM system at each of the remaining Minuteman bases as active defenses. These places need to be porcupines.

    For their own part, the Columbia-class SSBN’s should be carrying anti-torpedo weapons from the get-go as do the new Ford-class carriers. These are slated for eventual installation on the Ohio’s too, as they come in for major refits. But first priority is apparently for the Nimitz-class carriers, only about half of which have yet been retrofitted. I hope the Navy can squeeze in some Ohio anti-torpedo installations between those of the remaining Nimitzes.

  • duheagle

    I also want to starve the Bear. But this provision seems a very marginal and borderline tinfoil-hat way of going at it. What Trump is already doing to encourage Europeans to get their energy from us or from domestic shale deposits is going to do far worse damage to Russia than any flea bites against their satellite launch business.

    If Russia just wants to listen in on the traffic going through a given bird, it doesn’t have to sneak any sub rosa extra hardware onto it, it just needs to have one of its agents in place – which Russia has pretty much everywhere – put up a suitable small-aperture dish on the safe-house roof that listens to the military downlink. As military comms – even drone video feeds and such that were formerly sent in the clear – become encrypted, just recording the downlink traffic won’t do any good either unless the Ruskies can:

    1) already break the encryption used, or

    2) avoid needing to do so through already having access to the keys in use via more conventional means of espionage.

    Either of those things would be double-plus ungood. Neither would be affected in the slightest by moving traffic from one bird to another.

    If the Russkies needed to install some actual hardware on dual-use comsats, the only thing that would make sense is some sort of replacement module for the main controller board with a secret digital Judas-gate built in that allows take-over on command. This wouldn’t be detectable by checking mass of the bird and wouldn’t require either a transmitter or any other apparatus that would generate suspicious – and detectable – signals.

    Do I think the Russkies would do such a thing if they could? In a New York minute. Do I think the Russkies have or could do such? That, I am less certain about.

    As noted, I’m not opposed to moving military traffic around to at least minimize, if not entirely eliminate, any possibility of such a buried Trojan Horse, so to speak. It’s just that, if the Russkies have been doing this, killing off what little remains of their commercial satellite deployment missions with this legislative provision seems like a bit of sledgehammer gnat-swatting after the horses have left the barn, to mix a couple metaphors.

    And spare me the MSNBC talking points.

  • duheagle

    When it comes to making a fool of the Office of the President, its previous occupant could do three full laps of the track in the time it would take Donald Trump to tie his Nikes.

  • duheagle

    I would argue that the need for a Space Force was even greater back then given that the Russians had been working on, testing and deploying direct-ascent ASAT weapons for 20 to 25 years by the time the U.S. got into the game in any significant way. USAF dereliction in this respect is now well in excess of a half-century.

    Contra your contention, every U.S. military space asset at every altitude, inlcuding GEO is now at risk from Chinese direct-ascent ASAT weapons.

    There are a lot of architectures that could render direct-ascent ASAT’s pretty much dead letters. But allof them req

  • Andrew Tubbiolo

    Wow, you really think that? I get not agreeing with the policy of Obama or Trump, but Obama is obviously the mental and intellectual better of Donald Trump not to mention being a far better person in terms of being well balanced.

    If you can’t see it my way, here’s a window into my world.

    http://www.businessinsider.com/trump-prime-the-pump-phrase-economist-interview-2017-5

    To be that ignorant and so self centered just says it all. All I can say we we’ll have to more than agree to disagree on this front.

  • Andrew Tubbiolo

    Minuteman and Trident are no longer in production. They are refueled as their fuel ages out.

    Here’s an example of Minuteman refueling.

    http://www.defenseindustrydaily.com/atk-wins-541-mn-to-refuel-minuteman-iii-icbms-01964/

    A new ICBM will probably not go into a fast production run like Atlas, Titan, Minuteman, and Peacekeeper were. There’s no overbearing national emergency. The Russians and Chinese are just as dead if they get it from a Minuteman or a new ICBM. My bet is the USAF chooses a long slow production run.

  • duheagle

    You apparently mean to stand there, right out in front of God and everybody, and tell me that you don’t think Obama thought he was the Center of the Universe? Please!

    As for his alleged giant intellect, the man turned into George W Bush in terms of speaking ability whenever he didn’t have a teleprompter to read.

    On top of that, the man was poorly educated. There was that really cringe-inducing “corpse-man” speech, for example. Or the “all 57 states” thing. Or the reference to “Austrian” as a language. I could go on. The man was a blinkered dolt.

    You’re a lefty. Lefties all have bad cases of what I like to call “affirmative action blindness.” The idiocies of black people who have gamed the system to be promoted several levels beyond that of their incompetence are simply never acknowledged.

  • Andrew Tubbiolo

    History disagrees. The USSR lost. Plain and simple. Part of the recipe was economy of force. Part of that economy was not going deeper into debt with a 5th arm of the armed forces.

    You assert the that systems beyond LEO are covered by an operational system. Can you name it?

    As to your point of architectures that render direct ascent ‘dead letters’. Please explain.

  • duheagle

    That was more or less my point. Produce 1/10th of a generation of new ICBM’s and SLBM’s every year and not in a recurring boom and bust cycle. To borrow a line from The Right Stuff, “Maintain an even strain.”

  • passinglurker

    Oh rogers is spear heading this? You sure he doesn’t want to just shake up the beauracracy in order to install some one who aligns with his views concerning what hardware we pay for?

  • duheagle

    The USSR lost for a lot of reasons. And, next to the late USSR, almost anything would qualify as “economy of force.” As a saying of the time put it, “The U.S. has a military-industrial complex; the USSR, is a military-industrial complex.”

    I don’t advocate simply standing up another armed forces branch absent other needed structural reforms. And five branches aren’t enough anyway. We need at least eight. Air Mobility Command, for example, should be part of an integrated Logistics Corps that handles ground, sea and air logistics for all the combatant services.

    One big reason USAF has been stealing Space Command’s rations for years is because it no longer knows any way to develop airplanes quickly, then build a lot of them at reasonable unit prices. When the U.S. aircraft industry was still largely in the hands of its entrepreneur-founders during WW2, we knew how to do this. Since then, we’ve very much lost the knack. That’s the number one thing that needs fixing. NASA isn’t the only place we need to end cost-plus contracting.

    And, no, I don’t know what the Chinese call their GEO-capable direct-ascent ASAT system. And that doesn’t matter. The linked piece from three years ago says it was tested four years ago. As it is apparently a variant of a road-mobile ICBM, it probably can’t be told apart from same even by hi-res overhead imagery.

    I hope you haven’t been living in the desert Southwest so long you’ve taken on the Native American notion that it’s vital to know the true, secret names of things.

    I’ve added a bit to my previous quote that was suddenly posted for me, absent my volition, in mid-keystroke for reasons no doubt buried deep in the black flabby heart of Disqus.

    The key point is that any economical and effective counter to direct-ascent ASAT weapons has to be space-based for reasons of the fundamental physics and geometry of the situation.

  • duheagle

    Of course you’re not sure. Doubtless you’ve checked with Lefty Talking Points Central and found no guidance of which to avail yourself. So you’ve fallen back on the general Lefty reluctance to endorse anything having to do with the U.S. military – which the Left hasn’t liked since it was fighting Hitler.

    I’m sure. We not only “need to go there,” we needed to do it years ago.

  • Andrew Tubbiolo

    8 Branches! Does anyone else share your point of view other than yourself? Or perhaps we could evolve the Dept of defense thusly … Dept of War –> Dept of Defense –> Dept of Duheagle? 🙂 Come on, even I can see a point when it will be time to either turn the Air Force into a Space Force, or spawn off a USSC. But 8 branches! I’ve been pretty well versed in global armaments, and the global balance of forces for a long time, and never in decades of following this world have I ever seen a serious call for this.

    At best you can say we live in the 1920’s when the UK made the decision to spawn an air force while the US Army and Navy kept the air arm under their care as they viewed air power as subbordinate to serving the needs of the Army and Navy. Both the Brits and US were correct in their various assessments. There was no best move. Either architecture served the needs to address the real world threats of those days.

    As far as not knowing what a system is …. Don’t chase phantoms. The Heritage Foundation did this during the 1970’s with regards to Soviet anti submarine warfare and the over exaggeration of systems like the Tu-22. Reaching further back in time you get phantom gaps like the missile gap. The point is to respond to real deployed systems you can identify by name so everyone knows what you are talking about. Hand-waving threats is means of conducting propaganda not analysis of the balance of forces. I’m not saying you’re wrong about the Chinese ASAT, I’m only saying to familiarize yourself with the operational hardware of the Chinese so you can be exact in what you are talking about and not invoking phantoms.

  • Andrew Tubbiolo

    By that measure, just keep re-manufacturing Minuteman casings. If you’re not going to MIRV beyond 3 or 4, or go mobile, there’s no need to go further into debt with the Chinese to develop a new ICBM. Same for Trident. They’re both excellent systems for killing other countries ICBM’s.

  • Andrew Tubbiolo

    When did I say ” Obama thought he was the Center of the Universe? Please!”

    I never said that at all. You said I said that ….

    …Or the other things. I only said that between Trump and Obama, Obama was the better of the two. As far as people in the oval office not quite being up to the job, I think that’s been a serial problem strait back to the Clintons. Of that group, Clinton, Bush II, Obama, and Trump, Donald has taken it to a new low.

  • windbourne

    It was a Congress critter that said it, but I do not recall where. I have to find it again.

  • Vladislaw

    “Doubtless you’ve checked with Lefty Talking Points Central”

    Every time you use that …. it begs the question, did you check in with righty Talking points central to counter it?

    That label makes no sense…