Are we spending enough on space-based technologies? Obviously, there are security reasons why the United States does not want to fall behind in the development and deployment of space-based data collection, research and espionage technologies.
But there are more personal reasons why this should be a concern for the PMA community. The aerospace community relies on synergies between space and aviation to help develop new technologies. A lack of progress in the space technology arena can mean that we do not see the same level of technology advances in the aviation community that we have seen in the past.
This is a particular concern for the independent PMA community, because government-developed space technologies are often made available to the private sector for purchase or licensing, and may even be available through the Freedom of Information Act. NASA frequently licenses and sells patents that it has acquired. This sort of break-through technology can give a PMA company the ability to produce an improvement over an OEM product; the fact that it is licensed from the US Government can mean that it the PMA company’s Research and Development costs are far less than they would have been to develop the technology on its own.
A House Intelligence Committee Budget Report (INTELLIGENCE AUTHORIZATION ACT FOR FISCAL YEAR
2009, H. Rept. 110-665 at 116-117 (May 21, 2008)) criticizes the Administration’s failure to make space-based spy-satellite infrastructure a priority:
We are disappointed with certain provisions of the classified annex with respect to national security space systems. National security space systems have been and will continue to be a cornerstone of the nation’s intelligence collection capability. However, the current bill lacks a sense of urgency with regard to making decisions on overhead architecture and fails to address critical architectural shortfalls. It does not adequately fund critical national security space systems and is overly prescriptive in certain areas mandating technical solutions without complete analysis.
The news media has picked up this idea, as well. The Wired Blog Report on Defense (Danger Room) issues suggests “America has become so lousy at building spy satellites that ‘the United States is losing its preeminence in space.'”