Space Launch Certification Process Under Review

The Air Force is going to conduct a review of its process to certify new space launch vehicle providers to carry military and intelligence community satellites into orbit, announced Secretary Deborah Lee James in her State of the Air Force speech at AFA’s Air Warfare Symposium in Orlando, Fla. As the Air Force prepares to conclude its process to clear SpaceX for Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle-class missions, James said there might be ways to make the process more efficient. “My question is, based on what we’ve learned, can we now streamline? Can we improve the certification in some way; can we speed up the process?” she said during her Feb. 13 address. Retired Gen. Larry Welch, former Air Force Chief of Staff, will lead the independent review, said James. The first part of the review will concentrate on the remaining efforts to certify SpaceX as quickly as possible; James said the Air Force hopes to have completed this part of the review “by next month.” The second part will consist of a broader look at the process to ensure it is as expedient and efficient as possible, said James. That phase will be completed in “about 90 days,” she said.