In response to COVID-19, the Department of the Air Force is posturing to identify and provide support to the space industrial base, assessing sectors most impacted by the pandemic while creating an environment where companies in need can compete fairly in the event of supplemental federal relief funds.
Dr. Will Roper, Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics and U.S. Space Force Service Acquisition Executive, said the space industrial base is critical to the nation's military and economy. The Space Force Acquisition Council held an emergency session to synchronize response to fragile supply chains, at-risk workforces, and receding commercial markets and will continue to work with the Department of Defense and Congress to get additional help.
Roper said the council directed a comprehensive survey go out to space industrial base sectors, including members and non-members of the Space Enterprise Consortium, several federally funded research and development centers (FFRDCs), and pertinent think tanks.
The survey focuses on three distinct priorities:
1. Emerging supply chain, cleared workforce, and markets under immediate distress
2. Real bills caused by COVID-19 with the goal of minimizing existing program schedule risks
3. Stimulus: Small space vehicles, micro-electronics and other key areas for long-term sustainment
Dr. Christopher Scolese, NRO director, added that assured access to space coupled with a strong space industrial base are fundamental to national security. The National Reconnaissance Office is committed to working with the Space Acquisition Council and with the U.S. Space Force to ensure the stability of the space sector.
While Air Force officials recognize major suppliers and “prime” companies have been affected by COVID-19, an immediate concern is with tier three and tier four suppliers and vendors, as well as small companies, especially in the small launch, commercial satellite communications, and micro-electronic sectors.
Gen. Jay Raymond, U.S. Space Force Chief of Space Operation, noted that the COVID crisis must not undermine critical space industries. Given the threat to space capabilities posed by potential adversaries, the U.S. space industrial base must remain strong — the best in the world at developing national security space systems.