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Pentagon is now all-in on capitalism in space

Capitalism in space: Based on recent remarks from officials as well as a number of newly issued contracts, the U.S. military has now decided to completely shift from designing and building its own space hardware — which it has increasingly done badly at great cost — to simply becoming a customer buying products from the private sector.

First we have remarks and press announcements from top Pentagon officials, stating this policy change.

Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks, who has spearheaded Pentagon efforts to bring cutting-edge technology into defense programs, is overseeing the military’s first commercial space integration strategy.

The new strategy comes as the Pentagon seeks to tap into advancements in commercial space technology to maintain an advantage over China, now seen as America’s top military competitor. “At Deputy Secretary Hicks’ direction, the Department is currently developing our first DoD Commercial Space Integration Strategy in order to drive integration and ensure the availability of commercial space solutions during competition, crisis and conflict,” Pentagon Spokesman Eric Pahon said Nov. 27 in a statement to SpaceNews.

Nor are these merely words. On November 22, 2023 the military announced a request for proposals from twenty different commercial space companies to provide all of its military needs in orbit, with potential contracts worth up to $900 million.

The Proliferated Low Earth Orbit (PLEO) Satellite-Based Services contract, first announced in July, is run by the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) on behalf of the Space Force’s Commercial Satellite Communications Office (CSCO), a central marketplace for satellite services operated by the Space Systems Command.

…The PLEO contract “supports the Department of Defense’s requirement to provide worldwide, low-latency PLEO services,” said DISA. The IDIQ contracting method allows the Department of Defense, other federal agencies and international allies “to procure fully managed satellite-based services and capabilities for all domains (space, air, land, maritime and cyber) with a consistent, quality-backed, low-latency offering.”

This shift is excellent news, not only for the commercial space industry but for the American military itself. The former is guaranteed to grow and innovate as these companies compete for military business, while the latter will get what it needs more quickly and at much lower cost.

Genesis cover

On Christmas Eve 1968 three Americans became the first humans to visit another world. What they did to celebrate was unexpected and profound, and will be remembered throughout all human history. Genesis: the Story of Apollo 8, Robert Zimmerman's classic history of humanity's first journey to another world, tells that story, and it is now available as both an ebook and an audiobook, both with a foreword by Valerie Anders and a new introduction by Robert Zimmerman.

The ebook is available everywhere for $5.99 (before discount) at amazon, or direct from my ebook publisher, ebookit. If you buy it from ebookit you don't support the big tech companies and the author gets a bigger cut much sooner.

The audiobook is also available at all these vendors, and is also free with a 30-day trial membership to Audible.

"Not simply about one mission, [Genesis] is also the history of America's quest for the moon... Zimmerman has done a masterful job of tying disparate events together into a solid account of one of America's greatest human triumphs."--San Antonio Express-News

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