MAtthew Hoey, a research associate at the Institute for Defense and Disarmament Studies, passed along a note that the slides from a presentation he gave on “United States Military Space Systems – The Road Ahead” last month are now online. Hoey argues that the “monopoly” held by the “Big 6″ defense contractors (Boeing, Lockheed, Northrop, General Dynamics, Raytheon, and Orbital) is now slipping as new, smaller companies (like SpaceDev, MicroSat Systems, and SpaceX) enter the market. His presentation touches on developments like Operationally Responsive Space and the interest in the US military in both protecting space assets and finding ways to deny space assets to opponents.
While this presentation is free of some of the fearmongering and hyperbole seen in some space weaponization presentations, Hoey does perhaps overstate some of his claims. While the military is open to working with smaller companies, the so-called “Big 6″ still get the vast majority of funding, particularly on missile defense projects. In another slide, he claims that Microcosm will be offering low-cost rapid-response launch in 24 months (emphasis in original); given that Microcosm lost out on the FALCON small launch vehicle downselect and is seeking alternative sources of funding, that timetable seems highly unlikely. He also overstates the importance of the ESPA ring, an adapter that allows EELV launches to carry several small satellites as secondary payloads; it appears that the ESPA ring will be used only sparingly (perhaps once every two years?) and there’s no guarantee it will become the adapter of choice for smallsat payloads.