Undersecretary of the
Air Force Peter B. Teets answers questions during a media round
table at the National Reconnaissance Office in Chantilly, Va.,
on Feb. 12. Teets discussed the 2003 National Security Space top
priorities. (Photo by Master Sgt. Scott Elliott)
DOD space chief outlines
by Master Sgt. Scott Elliott
Air Force Print News
02/14/03 - CHANTILLY,
Va. -- Things are going well for the national security space
program, but America needs a roadmap to ensure future success,
the Defense Department's executive agent for space said Feb. 12.
Peter B. Teets, undersecretary
of the Air Force and director of the National Reconnaissance Office,
discussed the country's top national security space priorities
at a media roundtable conference at the NRO headquarters here.
"Any discussion of priorities
needs to start with the notion of ensuring mission success in
space operations," he said. "Our space assets are now probably
more important to warfighters, more important to our ability to
win the global war on terrorism than they ever have been."
According to Teets, there
have already been two successful national security space launches
in 2003, with 12 more scheduled. There was only one last year.
The key to maintaining
the schedule, he said, is a viable fleet of launch vehicles. The
United States currently uses the Atlas V and Delta IV evolved
expendable launch vehicles to boost spacecraft into orbit.
"It's important to have
two EELVs ... as independent as possible so, in the event one
of them suffers a launch failure ... (it) won't bring the ...
program to a halt while we get to the root cause, make the fix
and get back into space again," he said.
While the current vehicles
are the best the nation has ever had, Teets said he is looking
for better things to come.
"If we're going to have
operational, responsive, assured access to space, we need to (reduce
launch preparation) time from weeks and months down to hours and
days," he said.
To accomplish that goal,
Teets said he is expecting to see smaller launch vehicles than
can be erected on the launch pad, bolted to a spacecraft and fueled
by a tanker truck.
Other goals on the agenda
include developing a cadre of space professionals, integrating
space capabilities for warfighting and intelligence, getting space
acquisition programs back on track and refocusing on science and
are going to allow us to collect our adversaries' secrets without
their knowing they're being collected," Teets said. "If we're
going to win this global war on terrorism, we're going to have
to get ourselves in position where we can collect information
about (terrorist groups). We need to find out where they are,
what they're thinking (and) what they're plotting."
Equally important, he
said, is enhancing the nation's space control capability.
"Our space systems give
us a very significant capability advantage," Teets said. "There's
no doubt in my mind that our adversaries have taken note of that,
so it's going to be important for us to put meaningful resources
against, first of all, space situation awareness."
According to the undersecretary,
the first step in defending America's space assets is knowing
more about what else is up there.
"We track objects, but
we don't know an awful lot about what all those objects may be,"
he said. "We need to get a better handle on (that), then we need
to implement some defensive measures."
Teets said the first space
situational awareness measures would include attack-warning sensors,
but the nation needs to pursue offensive space capabilities as
"The fact is that we're
going to want to, if necessary, deny an adversary their use of
space," he said. "Offensive space capability is something I think
we need to start to work on."