DoD Opens Line of Communication to VCs

Vice Chief of Space Operations Gen. Michael Guetlein. Image: US Air Force

The Space Force is meeting with the top funders of commercial space tech, opening a line of communication between the national security and VC communities about threats in orbit and the up-and-coming tech needed to counter them.

Gen. Michael Guetlein, the Space Force’s vice chief of space operations, said Wednesday that the service is meeting not only with companies, but also with those who invest in them, to share notes on what each side is watching in the private sector.

“In order for you to understand where we’re going, we have to have a transparent conversation. So I have to have that conversation with the developer, but I also have to have that conversation with the venture capitalists, so they can understand what the future demand signal might look like so they know that, if they’re going to take a bet, there’s a chance that that bet’s going to win,” Guetlein said at the Ronald Reagan Institute’s National Security Innovation Base Summit in DC. 

Outside help: Guetlein also outlined why it’s crucial for the commercial sector to step in and work with the military, especially in the space sector where adversaries like Russia and China are driving a “significant increase in the threat.” 

“I can’t build enough capability fast enough to get after the near term threat, so that means we have to rely on partnerships—partnerships with allies and partnerships with commercial,” he said.

Past is precedent: DoD isn’t the first agency to rely more on commercial providers. Sen. Mark Kelly (D-AZ), who was at NASA when it was beginning to consider launching cargo and crew with commercial providers, said he was initially a “skeptic,” but that it ended up being a “great move” to shift away from government-built and owned space hardware. “It’s turned out to be a better approach to allow companies like SpaceX and others to innovate, to try to stay out of their way,” he said. 

Coming soon: Guetlein said the service is preparing to release its long-awaited commercial space strategy within the next month, which will include a plan for how to tap into private space capabilities in times of conflict.

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