Re-architecting Our National Security Space Strategy

Author: Fred Kennedy


Summary 

The current Administration has adopted a high-profile approach to space issues. It established a National Space Council, chaired by the Vice President and including various senior members of the Executive Branch. The Council authored multiple Space Policy Directives for Presidential signature on a variety of topics—NASA’s exploration efforts, bolstering the commercial space sector through regulatory streamlining, space traffic management, and the establishment of a Space Force. These efforts were individually laudable but lacked the cohesion of a grand strategy for envisioning America’s future in space.


Several cases illustrate this point:

  • A proposal to return to the Moon by 2024 electrified the imagination of many, but if the only acceptable path to success lies through such inordinately expensive and perennially delayed projects as the Space Launch System or Orion crew vehicle, how could such a challenging schedule goal conceivably be met?

  • An ever-increasing population of orbital debris threatens commercial, civil, and defense spacecraft alike, yet the obvious agency choice for dealing with the issue—the Federal Aviation Administration—was passed over in favor of the Commerce Department’s Office of Space Commerce, which has little experience or historical association with the problem.

  • While a space-focused arm of the Defense Department can act as an advocate and steward for critical national space priorities, the new U.S. Space Force has focused almost exclusively on operations and protection of legacy satellites and systems at the expense of fielding a new, more resilient space architecture.


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About the Author

Fred Kennedy is the President of Momentus, a space transportation startup located in the San Francisco Bay Area, and a member of multiple space company advisory boards. Dr. Kennedy served as the inaugural Director of the Defense Department’s Space Development Agency during 2019 and led the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s Tactical Technology Office from 2017 to 2019. He also served as a senior advisor for space and aviation in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy during the Obama Administration (2016). Dr. Kennedy retired from the Air Force as a colonel in 2016 after a 23-year career in space and airborne systems engineering and acquisition. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Surrey for work on small satellite propulsion systems and has multiple degrees in Aerospace Engineering from MIT. Following his departure from the government, Fred worked as an executive at Astra, a small rocket company in Alameda, California. Fred is also an active Forbes contributor; his interest areas include the accelerating pace of technological change, the impact of the private sector’s primacy in technology investment, and how civil, defense, and commercial interests can work together over the coming decades to build new ecosystems on earth and in space.