For the past few years the national security discussion rightly looked beyond our atmosphere to the next battleground. The latest threat assessment by the U.S. Department of Defense should dispel any myth that there is no space race. There is, and the U.S. is far behind.
The proliferation of laser and cyber weapons as well as counter-space technology by our adversaries is deeply troubling. Fortunately, we are on the precipice of action to further U.S. space interests, unless that effort gets bogged down by personal agendas.
As a senior member of the House Armed Services Committee for more than a decade, I received countless briefings from military and intelligence officials solely focused on the upcoming international struggle for space. China and Russia have long set their goals above us — literally — and new players such as India are looking to expand their reach.
In 2016, Congress agreed it was in our security interest to dedicate more preparation and resources to the mission, starting with the transportation of our space-bound cargo. We instructed the DoD to establish a plan to transition from our current reliance on Russian-made RD-180 rocket engines to U.S.-made launch vehicles by 2022. Several U.S. companies accepted the challenge to design and develop the next-generation rocket. The Air Force, which oversees this critical mission, is on schedule to meet this bipartisan congressional mandate.