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TECH SPACE
Space Protection - A Financial Primer
by Staff Writers
Bethesda MD (SPX) Jan 12, 2016


File image.

Last week, Space News aired a timely and important article by Mike Gruss on "Satellites in the Crosshairs." We rarely hear details about the highly classified arena of activities known as Space Protection. Thus, this article offers some unique insights into the nature and objectives of these activities. Launchspace is taking this opportune time to add a few "food for thought" aspects of our approach to achieving the objectives of Space Protection.

In 2014, Gen. John Hyden, Commander of USAF Space Command, said, "I don't ever want to go to war in space. With anybody. That is bad for humankind. It's bad for our military. It's bad for the United States of America. It's counterproductive for the amazing things that we do in space. Little if any good can come from a war in space." He further stated, "All that being said, the only way to avoid such a war is to always be prepared to defend ourselves. Always."

In a recent talk to space professionals, Chirag Parikh, Director of Space Policy for the National Security Council, noted that, "The president has expressed concern about the emerging antisatellite capabilities and the possible threat to the U.S. mission." As a result, the White House wants to "substantially increase the level of resources needed by an aggressor to successfully interfere with critical U.S. military and intelligence capabilities."

In other words, the current Administration is suggesting that we make the cost of interfering with U.S. national security assets and operations so high that an aggressor would be deterred from attempting such actions. Some experts believe that his approach to national security threats was a big factor in breaking up the Soviet Union some 25 years ago.

This new approach to achieving space protection goals is sometimes called "resiliency." It is the "in-vogue" term that has replaced "disaggregation," the opposite of the stove-piped monolithic satellite network that has served the defense and intelligence communities for the last several decades.

Some experts believe that disaggregation would lead to lower costs, better integration of operations and a less vulnerable national security space infrastructure. It seems important to compare these two philosophies in a number of areas. Let's just consider one: the affordability of resilience.

In the late-1980s, the U.S. had the ability to outspend the USSR on the national security infrastructure, and we did. At that time the ratio of Government Debt to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was roughly 53%. Today, this ratio is about 103%. This indicates that the U.S. really cannot afford to spend as it did when the USSR dissolved. To make matters worse, we now have a more complex adversarial situation. Both Russia and China represent potential existential threats. On top of this, the national annual deficit is currently about $500 billion. This represents about 13% of the $3.9-trillion spending plan for the current Fiscal Year.

The U.S. is annually paying over $430 billion in interest on a national debt of over $18 trillion. The Federal Reserve has just started to raise interest rates, and over the next two or three years, the annual interest on the debt could double. This is likely to further exacerbate both the annual deficit and debt situations. The bottom line to all of this is that the U.S. probably no longer can outspend our adversaries.

These figures give cause to ask: "Which is more cost effective, Resilience or Disaggregation?"

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