A key Defense Department official wants the federal government to reform how it licenses commercial space capabilities to keep these businesses based in the United States, so the nation can better leverage these technologies for warfighters.
Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Space Policy Doug Loverro said Monday fortunately for the federal government the new entrepreneurial space capabilities are almost all U.S.-borne. Loverro said reforming licensing would help bring new commercial space capabilities to the market faster with more agility by freeing up entrepreneurial spirit.
Citing the nascent satellite servicing market as an example, Loverro said if the U.S. creates the proper licensing structure for a commercial capability, they become self-supporting and prime for government utilization. Satellite servicing is where a spacecraft is sent to other spacecraft already in orbit and performs missions such as life-extension, refueling or repair.
On the other hand, Loverro said satellite servicing would be a capabiltiy that the Pentagon would “almost never develop,” and if it did, it would be a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) project that would be killed after one year.
“We have to go ahead and figure out a way to… (not just) leverage these capabilities, we have to figure out a way to put the policies in place to attract them and we have to figure out a way to work with them as they advance, as they evolve moving forward,” Loverro said at an event hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington.
Richard Leshner, vice president of government affairs and global policy initiatives with Planet, said Monday he agrees with Loverro’s call to reform licensing. Leshner said Planet, a smallsat satellite imagery provider, is strictly licensed and subject to inter-agency review. Founded in 2010, Planet says it is driven by a mission to image the entire earth every day.