Senate defense appropriators take issue with agencies that buy launch services directly from providers

WASHINGTON — The Senate Appropriations Committee in a report Nov. 10 criticized the practice by some agencies of procuring launch services directly from commercial providers, bypassing the National Security Space Launch program run by the U.S. Space Force.

Appropriators expressed these concerns in an “explanatory statement” accompanying the $696 billion markup of the Defense Department spending bill for Fiscal Year 2021 released on Tuesday

The committee questioned “recent moves by some agencies to procure launches outside of the space launch enterprise through direct commercial contracts or delivery on orbit contracts,” the report said.


Space Force: Too early to say if military will need super heavy launch vehicles

WASHINGTON — The launch vehicles the U.S. Space Force selected last month to fly its satellites — United Launch Alliance’s Vulcan Centaur, and SpaceX’s Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy — meet the national security needs for the foreseeable future, said Brig. Gen. D. Jason Cothern, who oversees launch services procurement for the U.S. Space Force.

“We are super excited about the future of space launch,” Cothern, the vice commander of the Space and Missile Systems Center, said Sept. 8 during a virtual forum hosted by the RAND Corp.

Cothern however would not speculate on whether the Space Force might one day have a need for the super heavy reusable launchers like SpaceX’s Starship or Blue Origin’s New Glenn.