A report commissioned by U.S. Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James urges the military service to adopt a flexible approach to evaluating and approving rockets for national security-related launches, SpaceNews reported Monday.
Mike Gruss writes Larry Welch, a former Air Force chief of staff and retired general, led the broad area review of military space launch operations.
Welch said in the report that the branch may need to guarantee commercial providers a specific number of launches in order to establish a business case for rocket development and foster program competition, according to SpaceNews.
The report forecasts that United Launch Alliance will continue to play a key role in heavy-class national security payload missions and that SpaceX will have a significant role in the medium-class rocket launch operations.
Gruss said the report also calls on the Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center to formulate a contingency plan to help current rocket providers maintain their place in the national security launch services market.