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The Destin Log: Chief: Space Force must change the way U.S. addresses hardware needs

Updated: Feb 6, 2020

SANDESTIN (The Destin Log) January 31, 2020 — As the U.S. Space Force, the new sixth branch of the U.S. military, gets off the ground, the emerging service is working to innovate the way the United States builds and fields its space hardware.

That was the message delivered Friday by Lt. Col. Walter McMillan, who is, in fact, the chief of innovation for the Space Force, to a group of military contractors, economic development professionals and military personnel. McMillan was among the people addressing the Defense Leadership Forum’s 2020 Air Force Contracting Summit at the Hilton Sandestin resort.

“I’m given a lot of leeway to try new things,” McMillan told his large audience.

Until now, McMillan said, the United States has focused its space hardware acquisition on high-end assets.

“We’ve always purchased that Lamborghini,” McMillan said, equating the expensive sports car to the U.S, space inventory.

Now, McMillan said, Space Force will be confronting a variety of space needs, which might not always require a massive investment.

“Space Force must fundamentally change the way we architect (develop) and deliver space systems,” McMillan explained.

McMillan went on to note that the United States’ “near-peer adversaries (Russia and China) are very active in the space realm.”

“We are no longer operating in an uncontested environment,” he added.

Currently, McMillan said, the Space Force is looking at what the next generation of space hardware will look like, as there is a growing demand for a space defense capability.

“How do we pivot space architecture?” he asked.

One of the ways Space Force is already addressing that question is through “pitch days,” in which small contractors present ideas for addressing problems associated with space defense.


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