News | Feb. 1, 2018

Low-Cost Access to Space: Military Opportunities and Challenges

By Philip Stockdale, Scott Aughenbaugh, and Nickolas J. Boensch Defense Horizons 83

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Defense Horizons 83

Key Points

  • In support of the Air University “Fast Space” study, the National Defense University collaborated with Johns Hopkins University, eight think tanks, and subject matter experts to analyze the utility of ultra-low-cost access to space (ULCATS) for the U.S. military. 
  • Contributors identified disruptors that could achieve ULCATS and Fast Space as well as space architectures and capabilities that could reduce the cost of access to space. They also offered recommendations for legal, policy, regulatory, authority, and oversight adjustments that could facilitate reductions. 
  • The combination of a greater number of innovative commercial space actors, industry advocacy for licensing reform, and optimism regarding reusable launch vehicles will eventually change the ways the United States operates in space. 
  • As the economic landscape of space activities evolves, some missions in low earth orbit may be turned over to commercial sector operation, but the next 3 to 5 years might not be revolutionary for government use of space capabilities.