Project Title: Space Enterprise Consortium (SpEC)
Decades ago, the United States could safely consider space to be an uncontested sanctuary—the high ground. Government programs drove the development of space technology. Today this has changed. Use of space technology is rapidly expanding worldwide. According to the Space Foundation’s 2015 Space Report, US government space expenditure constituted only 13% of the $330 billion dollars expended globally in 2014. Leadership in space innovation is increasingly found in the commercial sector. Planet, a private US company, launched 88 earth-imaging satellites on February 14, 2017 from the Satish Dhawan Space Center in southeastern India. By the summer of 2017 their constellation will be populated such that they can image the entire earth daily. Planet recently acquired earth imaging Terra Bella from Alphabet (Google) with the intention of using the Terra Bella constellation as a high resolution complement to their existing medium resolution imaging architecture.
At the same time our adversaries have demonstrated their capability to wage warfare against the US in space, at times utilizing commercial technology. These developments are moving rapidly. To meet these threats National Security Space must be able to leverage all available technology resources and develop new capabilities faster and with greater flexibility.
In October 2016 during the Air Force Innovation Forum in San Jose, Calif., former Secretary of the Air Force, Ms. Deborah Lee James announced that the service had issued a request for information for a not-for-profit manager of the Space Enterprise Consortium (SpEC). As a result of this effort, the Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC) awarded a $100 Million consortium manager agreement in October 2017 to Advanced
Technology International (ATI). This is an umbrella agreement for a consortium of innovative companies to give us space and ground communication capabilities, particularly for our space forces.The use of an Other Transaction (OT) agreement for SpEC will allow Space SMC and other Department of Defense organizations to develop space technology prototypes. This authority derives from 10 USC 2371b.
The SpEC OT is designed to incentivize partnerships between traditional and non-traditional contractors and to overcome barriers for speed and innovation that are products of FAR-based contracting. In particular, it is well-recognized that most of industry in general, and high tech sectors in particular, view FAR red tape for Cost Accounting, assured government rights to intellectual property, and competitive procedures as too onerous to suffer. The additional schedule required to execute that red tape also precludes the rapid evolutionary development required to effectively harvest the value of perishable technology, irrespective of which companies are involved. The intent of these FAR clauses can be addressed more efficiently and effectively by capturing the desired outcomes as measurable objectives of the prototyping projects themselves. Moreover, the use of the SpEC OT will increase competition for the space community by providing a larger pool of prospective vendors, specifically targeted for their particular expertise.
Lastly, companies can visit the Advance Technology International website, http://www.space-enterprise-consortium.org / and view active and pending solicitations through the Space Enterprise Consortium. If you would like to learn more, the website also provides instructions on becoming a member. So far, there are over 100 members as part of the consortium and multiple prototype projects are in various stages of evaluation.
- SpEC OT Overview
- SpEC Consortium