We now live in a world of accelerated technological advancement. Moore’s Law has come home to roost in the space business. Taking seven to 10 years to develop and deploy operational space systems is no longer efficient nor acceptable.
Recently, as pointed out by the U.S. Government Accountability Office, America’s adversaries have been turning technology in three to four years, while the U.S. is turning technology in seven to 10 years. For the last 25 years, we have been the unchallenged world leaders in space technology. However, if this trend continues it will not be very long until we fall behind. This has been recognized by the GAO and congressional and Air Force leadership. To respond, we must figure out how to move fast, insert technology quickly and respond to rapid technology insertion by our adversaries. Therefore, we need to increase our risk tolerance, and build systems faster and more affordably, allowing us to deploy resilient constellations that can endure losses, and still provide mission capability. To retain system agility and resilience, we cannot afford to buy and field technologically “old” systems up to a decade after program initiation.
In the past, we deployed systems very quickly. The first Defense Meteorological Satellite Program satellite was built in 10 months, but we did this with a high tolerance for risk. While we were risk tolerant, Gen. Bernard Schriever and the early military space pioneers realized that problems in high-technology, low-volume developments would occur, and therefore built in cost and schedule margin. This margin allowed rapid and efficient addressing of problems and issues as soon as they occurred.
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