Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Day 2 of 2010 Air & Space

Day Two of the 2010 Air and Space Conference and Technology Expo had another great line-up of speakers, panelists and presentations.

Maj Armstrong sat in on Gen Robert "Bob" Kehler's afternoon presentation, "Space and Cyberspace," giving us the highlights:

Gen Kehler began his afternoon speech describing just how far we’ve come in the space domain.

In 1957, there was one man-made object in space. Now we have more than 20,000 manmade objects that are big enough to track. Fifty years ago, there were few participants in space with a primary interest of national security; now we have many participants in space with the main interest lying in commercial applications such as Direct-TV. This is a fast paced arena - the Air Force must be innovative to keep up with space transformation, Gen Kehler urged.

The new National Space Policy, signed by President Obama on June 28, 2010, states the principles/goals/guidelines for space activities. This document emphasizes cooperation, assurance and resilience of our mission essential functions. Gen Kehler spoke about the need to leverage existing systems more efficiently and in innovative ways to meet the direction of the new policy. He argues that we should be able to plan for our future; we know now what our capabilities in space will be 10 to 20 years from now because they are the satellites that are leaving the launch pads now with projected lifespans of 10+ years.

We should look backward and leverage experience from the past (our warfighter’s space lessons learned in Iraq and Afghanistan) in helping to look forward to anticipate our warfighter’s space requirements, he said. To show how AFSPC has already leveraged existing systems and lessons learned, he discussed examples like SIDC’s TENCAP and Talon NAMATH or the movement of the GPS constellation in order to increase coverage in canyon-areas. Finally, space professionals should apply creative thinking about how we can integrate air, space and cyberspace.

Gen Kehler argues that the space acquisition strategy of block builds will not work for all space acquisition. While “block builds” may work well for GPS, it does not work well for boosters so we must base the acquisition method on the requirements for the system. Block builds, or incremental capability adds, are the model for most satellite acquisitions, but Gen Kehler warns that space professionals must keep innovation in their job-jar because block builds will not buy us a “game changer.” We must not abandon innovation just to avoid risk, he advised.

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