Space Acquisition Council Sets Emergency Meeting

Credit: U.S. Defense Department

The Pentagon’s Space Acquisition Council (SAC) will hold an emergency meeting to support the space industrial base in the wake of the novel coronavirus.

“Now’s the time for the government to make a bold move and stabilize those markets,” U.S. Air Force acquisition Will Roper, who chairs the SAC, told reporters April 16.

Smaller suppliers and companies that rely on commercial capital are at risk, Roper said. He is specifically concerned about the propulsion industry.

SAC members include Chief of Space Operations Gen. John Rayment; Shon Manasco, performing the duties of the undersecretary of the Air Force; Stephen Kitay, deputy assistant secretary of defense for space policy; Derek Tournear, Space Development Agency director; National Reconnaissance Office Director Christopher Scolese; Lt. Gen. JT Thompson, Space and Missile Systems Center commander; and Shawn Barnes, performing the duties of the office of the assistant secretary of the Air Force for space acquisition and integration.

During the emergency meeting, the group will determine where there is overlap between the various offices. Roper has invited Jen Santos, assistant secretary of defense for industrial policy and Kevin Fahey, assistant secretary of defense for acquisition, as special attendees.

The idea is to gain consensus because the SAC backing an idea holds more weight than any of the entities on their own, Roper said.

During the inaugural meeting, Roper focused a substantive amount of time on digital engineering because he wants to bring the technique into manufacturing satellites.

“If [SAC] doesn’t come to common terms and procedures for using digital engineering, then we won’t get the benefit of the technology across different portfolios. We have to agree on how to do it together,” Roper said. “Everyone’s really excited about it.”

Roper promised the SAC members he would read them into aircraft and missile programs that are using digital engineering so that they can envision how to apply the technique to space.

The new body will also reach a consensus on which countries are considered adversarial in the space realm, he said.

“We agreed to get a common understanding of the future threat in space that we face,” Roper said. “We don’t want to nail down one specific threat that we think we’re going to have to encounter any given year. It’s just too unpredictable.”