Orbital ATK has announced plans to procure parts of the Defense Department“™s Cold War-era intercontinental ballistic missiles and use them for commercial satellite launches, The Washington Post reported Monday.
Christian Davenport writes the company“™s plan comes ahead of the Tuesday hearing in Congress on a two-decade ban on the sale of DoD’s stockpile of ICBMs for commercial use.
“It“™s a lot more economical, and it“™s a lot more prudent to use these for purposeful destruction like launch instead of going on and blowing them up,“ said Mark Pieczynski, vice president of business development at Orbital ATK.
According to the report, Virgin Galactic and other space companies say such a proposition would force the commercial space sector to compete with the government.
“There are a range of commercial firms that are spending literally billions of dollars of private capital to try to innovate our way forward,“ said Richard DalBello, vice president of business development and government affairs at Virgin Galactic.
The U.S. Air Force maintains, tests and stores nearly 1,000 Cold War-era Peacekeeper and Minuteman ICBMs at its bases’ bunkers in Utah and Arizona.
Davenport also reported that Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) said at a congressional hearing Tuesday that the government could potentially use ICBMs to clean up orbital objects and debris in space.
The Air Force and Lockheed Martin collaborate on the development of Space Fence, a system designed to monitor space debris, Davenport added.