According to Steve Isakowitz, Chief Executive Officer of the Aerospace Corporation and ex-president of Virgin Galactic, the rising commercialization of space as well as the development of the United States Space Force have created excellent circumstances for change in the national Defense space market.
Aerospace is a federally financed research and development organization situated in El Segundo, California, that analyses and evaluates space projects for NASA, the Defense Department, and National Reconnaissance Office.
In a discussion with SpaceNews, Isakowitz stated that national security space organizations are seeing unprecedented opportunities to capture commercial innovation. Defense programs will not change overnight, he claims, but change is in the air.
What is influencing transformation in national security space initiatives in particular?
The Space Force’s formation was certainly significant. Creating an organization that is now capable of making decisions that were previously more fragmented is a huge step forward. Space Systems Command [which succeeded the earlier Space and Missile Systems Center] was recently established by the Space Force. This, along with the Space Development Agency and the Space Rapid Capabilities Office, I believe, will improve cooperation across the entire space enterprise.
SMC and now Space Systems Command worked closely with Aerospace Corp. Do you believe they will do business differently?
Because SMC had already experienced major reorganization over the previous two years, not much will change right now. SMC took a major step by forming the “program integration council,” which comprises members from the Department of Defense and intelligence agencies that procure space systems. The PIC council is a terrific place to bring all of the players together and talk about the oneness of effort in a more constructive way than they have in the past.
Everyone understands that technology advances at a breakneck pace. What we need to do now is figure out how to move faster, embrace the technologies used by these new businesses, and, most crucially, outrun the threat.
What does this entail for businesses that sell military-related goods and services?
The way businesses compete for deals will change. In the past, when it came to satellites, for example, you participated in the traditional stages of the competition and if one won, you very much sealed that thing up for the next 10 to 20 years, if not longer. It was up to you to develop that program. I believe there will be far less of that in the future. What you’ll notice is that younger companies and technology will find it easier to integrate into existing programs. That may be accomplished by introducing new sensors to the satellite that we could test, or by combining smaller satellites with larger satellites for increased resiliency.