The United States and its NATO allies continue to make progress on the European Phased Adaptive Approach plan and hope to declare initial NATO missile defense capability by May 2012, said Ellen Tauscher, undersecretary of state for arms control and international security, Tuesday. At the same time, the United States remains “committed” to deploying ground-based interceptors in Alaska and California “to provide the United States with a defense against a limited ICBM strike from countries such as North Korea or Iran,” she said during her speech at the Atlantic Council Missile Defense Conference in Washington, D.C. The United States and NATO also are working to “establish a political framework” with Russia on missile defense. “The missile defense system we are establishing in Europe is not directed against Russia. We have said that publicly and privately, at many levels. We are prepared to put it in writing,” said Tauscher. “As full partners in missile defense, we would partner to counter threats originating outside Europe, not each other.” (Tauscher transcript) (See also Star-Crossed Missile Defense from the Daily Report archives.)
NASA, SpaceX, and United Launch Alliance are all preparing to launch their next-gen rockets from Florida’s Space Coast, two of them before the year is out. One is expected to liberate the U.S. launch enterprise from its reliance on Russian-made RD-180 engines, while all three rockets could eventually carry astronaut crews.