Space as a Vital National Interest

For almost half a century, spacepower advocates assumed that the critical national security importance of space programs guaranteed attention at senior levels of the U.S. government. However, events over the past four years suggest that national security space continues to be treated as a second-tier issue at senior levels of the Bush administration.

The administration’s primary focus on the exigencies of the global war on terrorism is understandable. Many key challenges in the defense space sector also can be handled within the Department of Defense. Recent changes in Intelligence Community organization might resolve very similar problems in the reconnaissance satellite program. These problems include resolving massive cost overruns and delays in important programs, a steady decline in the industrial base, and slow progress in rejuvenating the cadre of uniformed space experts.

At the same time, presidential guidance is still required to resolve key issues that extend beyond a single executive department or agency. Unfortunately, the lack of senior-level attention within the Bush administration has resulted in a bureaucratic deadlock that prevents progress on protecting vital national security interests in outer space.

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