In a change from previous contracts based mainly on reliability and cost for rockets built to launch U.S. spy satellites, the Pentagon will insist that the next generation be capable of countering interference from both China and Russia, The Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday.
People briefed on a coming Defense Department bidding competition noted to the Journal that rockets and the satellites they carry are trackable in orbit, which means that U.S. adversaries have the ability to interfere with or destroy them.
This is especially so as the capabilities of China and Russia have improved significantly, with space operations orchestrated by Beijing and Moscow cited by the Pentagon as major concerns in defending American interests.
For example, last year Russia used a missile to destroy one of its defunct satellites.
The Department of Defense’s National Security Space Launch program has a budget of $1.2 billion for this fiscal year to purchase rocket missions to carry spy and military satellites to orbit for the Space Force and intelligence agencies.
At least three rocket companies are expected to compete for contracts to take care of launches under the new round of competition, sources told the Journal, with Pentagon officials saying the appearance of many different firms in the launch market has helped lower costs.
Due to the increased threats from space, the Pentagon has altered its strategy in an attempt to make its communications systems less susceptible to attack and interference, including distributing their functions across hundreds of small satellites instead of larger ones that are easier to target.
The mandate for a robust defense against foreign interference is expected to appear in that program’s forthcoming third phase plans, according to the Journal.
Brian Freeman, a Newsmax writer based in Israel, has more than three decades writing and editing about culture and politics for newspapers, online and television.
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