Last August during a speech for Pentagon contractors, the recent defense undersecretary of engineering and research for US, Mike Griffin, openly talked about how much less time he is left with in office and how much work he wanted to finish up.
The top thing in his to-do list is the space sensor layer that is based off developments in commercial space.
He stressed on the fact that space sensors should be developed very soon for filling gaps in the missile systems of defense that is currently used. These systems make the US and its friends the most vulnerable to Russian and Chinese hypersonic weapons.
Griffin said that they know that this is possible, but it cannot be done quickly. He added that the Pentagon would take at least 16 years for declaring a need to the capability of initial operation.
A technocrat, Griffin, who has half-dozen advanced degrees, was infuriated with the bureaucracy of Pentagon’s procurement even before joining the President Trump’s administration in Feb 2018.
Griffin, the former administrator of NASA and the space guy, was annoyed with the slow manner in which the military procures and develops satellites and systems. He found a partner in the Patrick Shanahan, who was the then deputy defense secretary. Both of them were convinced that the procurements system was an obstacle for the innovation that the DoD required to stay in front of rivals like Russia and China, not just in hypersonic weapons and space, but also in autonomous vehicles and artificial intelligence.
Griffin said that in order to get ahead in space, DoD needs to get into the commercial sector which is investing huge amount of money in technology of satellite manufacturing, launch vehicles and ground systems for deploying mega constellations into the low orbit of Earth for providing inexpensive broadband to world. This would also work for DoD. The Pentagon can develop its own constellation using the commercial satellites that are low cost not only for communication but also for surveillance, global navigation and missile warning.