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National Security Implications of Space-Launch Innovation, A Virtual Think Tank (ViTTa) (registered trade mark) Report

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Technical Report

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Joint Staff J39, Strategic Multilayer Assessment Washington, DC United States

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What are the national security implications of increasingly accessible and affordable commercial launch services Are these the same for the US and near-peers or states with emergent space capabilities The experts solicited in this effort agree that there will be wide-ranging national security challenges and a few benefits arising from decreased launch costs. The challenges are largely derived from two structural changes to the space domain more actors and a wider diversity of payloads. The subject matter experts indicate that changing commercial launch technology alters the monetary costs of the types and timing of deliverables national space programs can produce. These potential transformations of national space programs affect military procurement patterns, environmental destruction, informational supply chains, and military space operations. The diversity and number of actors accessing space and the types of objects in space is increasing over time, seemingly exponentially. According to Dr. Malcolm Davis of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, a suite of commercial entities, SpaceX, Blue Origin, Virgin Galactic, and Stratolaunch, amongst others, are either launching payloads or soon will be, in new ways that opens up access to space to a broader customer base and at a lower cost and with greater responsiveness. Dr. Deganit Paikowsky of Tel Aviv University observes that commercial entities are one of the two new types of players that joined global space activity due to decreased costs to launch. Historically, larger incumbent companies, such as Boeing and Lockheed Martin, have used government corporate subsidies to drive their product cycles. Lowered costs to launch have added a small and developing countries and b private sector players to the mix of actors in space.

Subject Categories:

  • Economics and Cost Analysis
  • Astronautics

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