Space expertise isn’t necessary to run the Space Development Agency, says Pentagon deputy


WASHINGTON — The Pentagon’s No. 2 official has someone in mind to run the new Space Development Agency, and it may not be someone from the space community. In an exclusive interview with Defense News, Deputy Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan also said he expects the cost for a future Space Force will be below the $13 billion estimate floated by the Air Force in September. The Space Development Agency, which would be a joint procurement arm in charge of setting standards and avoiding the duplication on space technology, appears to be the hub of Shanahan’s plans for rebuilding the Pentagon’s space architecture. There has been a widespread assumption, among those tracking progress on creation of the agency, that it would be headed by someone from the space community. However, Shanahan made it clear that space experience may be nice, but isn’t his priority for a candidate. Instead, the deputy wants someone who has experience merging multiple systems and who has “real technical chops” when it comes to integrating systems. “It’s less about the space mission … this is a once in a lifetime opportunity to drive standards and integration,” Shanahan said Oct. 31. The biggest challenge to the Pentagon’s space plan? Hint: ‘It’s not the technology’ The planning for the Space Force continues …. By: Aaron Mehta “Somebody that’s really done integration; somebody to understand systems engineering. So think about, you know, the ground stations and the architecture that goes along with that,” he said. “This is our chance to have true integration.” Sign up for our Military Space Report Get the latest news about space and strategic systems Subscribe Enter a valid email address (please select a country)United StatesUnited KingdomAfghanistanAlbaniaAlgeriaAmerican SamoaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBoliviaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of TheCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’ivoireCroatiaCubaCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuamGuatemalaGuineaGuinea-bissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMarshall IslandsMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMicronesia, Federated States ofMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNetherlands AntillesNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorthern Mariana IslandsNorwayOmanPakistanPalauPalestinian Territory, OccupiedPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalPuerto RicoQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRwandaSaint HelenaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and The GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbia and MontenegroSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and The South Sandwich IslandsSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwan, Province of ChinaTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-lesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUnited States Minor Outlying IslandsUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuelaViet NamVirgin Islands, BritishVirgin Islands, U.S.Wallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabwe Subscribe Thanks for signing up! For more newsletters click here “This is that integrated environment that we have to protect, and the best way to be able to provision for the future is to develop a foundation that’s rooted in a very well-defined architecture and standards,” he added. “And the standards aren’t just simply for interfaces, these are design standards, you’re manufacturing standards, these are test standards — so it’s a suite of those things.” When it was noted it appears he has someone specific in mind to lead the agency, Shanahan laughed and said, “Of course I do,” but he declined to name the candidate. (Based on how the job has been described, it seems likely the agency head will not need to be confirmed by the Senate, giving Shanahan a clear path for whoever he has targeted.) However, the answer may come soon. Shanahan wants the agency set up quickly. ““We have to start tonight. I’m more interested in starting tonight than I am in capturing everything,” he said during an October event. US Air Force explores space-based cargo operations, confirms talks with SpaceX While it’s currently just a concept, Air Mobility Command is taking a look at how cargo operations could be done in space. By: Jeff Martin Space Force costs In September, an Air Force memo putting new costs for the creation of a Space Force at $13 billion emerged. But that is only one cost estimate, with the Office of the Secretary of Defense expected to deliver its own figure sometime before the end of the year. Asked if it was fair to assume the OSD estimate would be less than the Air Force’s estimate, Shanahan smiled, laughed and indicated that it would be. “Short answer: It’s going to be less than that. I haven’t looked at the number, but it’s going to be less than that,” he said. “I’m not concerned that people are just going to generate a big bill.” The $13 billion figure sent waves of sticker shock through the defense community and led to accusations that the Air Force — which has been reluctant to embrace the idea of a Space Force — were hyping up costs to try and kill the idea. But Shanahan seemed confident that new costs will be lower than the Air Force believes. “There’s going to be a cost, but what I want to do is take existing cost and move it over to this,” he said. “The goal here is not to create a lot of incremental cost. “In this department, you know with this secretary and this Congress, people in the White House, they’re not going to let us just go throw money at that.”