Space Launch Goals Reiterated

Colorado Springs, Colo.—Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James on Thursday reiterated the service’s efforts to facilitate competition and innovation in space launch. In her presentation at the 31st Space Symposium here, she told attendees the Air Force has a four-point plan to “get off” the Russian-made RD-180 engine, which powers the United Launch Alliance’s Atlas V launch vehicle. The service is working closely with the research and development community to better understand the risks associated with launch and develop mitigation strategies, she said. The Air Force also plans to release a request for proposals later this year for the development of new rocket propulsion technology, and continues to work with industry to invest in multiple launch systems. These efforts are meant to foster a competitive launch environment for national security space missions, she said. These steps are a crucial piece of the service’s efforts to combat a growing threat in the space domain, said James.