COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. Lockheed-Martin Corp. CEO Robert Stevens warned Tuesday (March 10) that "space is broken, badly broken" and the U.S. space effort needs an infusion of both federal funds and a revitalized engineering infrastructure to rescue both civilian and military efforts.
In a keynote speech at the National Space Symposium, Stevens said the current national level of 78,000 engineering graduates a year is woefully inadequate. "One in four engineers at Lockheed-Martin is now over 50," he said. "Today's engineer has choices of where to apply talent, and we need to rekindle the excitement for space."
Stevens said the U.S. is in danger of "ceding our spaceflight leadership to Russia, China and even India," and that leadership could not be preserved without a sustained investment. He called for doubling NASA's budget at a cost of only 32 cents a day for every American. Americans are willing to spend more on pets or gifts than on commercial space, he said.
Stevens said it is imperative to maintain unrivaled missile-defense systems and unparalleled surveillance capabilities in orbit. "There is no substitute...to military dominance in space," he said.
Josh Hartman of the House Appropriations Committee's minority staff warned that "huge holes in this year's space budget...carry the potential for technical gaps in intelligence." He cited delays in the Pentagon's high-profile broadband Internet satellite system, the Transformational Satellite, or T-SAT.
"Why does Congress not support T-SAT?" Hartman said. "The developers have been making regular progress on this front."
Hartman and Adam Harris, a Democratic staffer on the appropriations panel, said there will be continuing policy debate in Congress over the Air Force's Operationally Responsive Space program, which calls for multitasking electronic communications, fast-response launches and upgrades of several missile programs. Both staffers said there is no congressional consensus on what ORS means, or what level is should be funded.
Hartman also cited recent difficulties during the December 2006 launch of TacSat-2, considered a poster child for ORS. The satellite carried imaging and signals intelligence payloads, but in recent weeks the National Security Agency has sought to set technical standards for the satellite. Both staffers predicted bureaucratic struggles over the ORS program.