The Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee has proposed language in the 2020 defense authorization act that would provide Elon Musk’s SpaceX with up to $500 million so that it can continue pursuing military launch contracts despite not receiving a competitive award from the Air Force last year to develop a launch vehicle. Three other providers, including two non-traditional ones, won awards. Chairman Smith’s proposed language is a bad idea. According to the Air Force, it would raise the cost of military space missions, undermine assured access to space for key national-security payloads, and delay the day when the U.S. finally ends reliance on Russian rocket engines. It would also reward a losing participant in a merit-based competition while punishing companies that won on the basis of better designs and pricing. Why Chairman Smith thinks any of this is necessary is hard to fathom. I have written a commentary for Forbes here.
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