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Brooks fighting to keep national security space launch program on track

Congressman Mo Brooks (AL-05) is planning to petition Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson to maintain the military’s commitment to its national security space launch program.

Fearing derailment of the Air Force’s plan to implement the second phase of the established program, Brooks has penned a letter to Wilson urging her to continue as previously planned, according to one congressional source.

He cites the threat from massive investments in space by Russia and China as a primary need for the program and expressed concerns that delays and changes to the process could hinder the nation’s ability to complete future missions, Yellowhammer News has learned.

State and federal leaders have positioned Alabama as a key player in the national security space race.

NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, Redstone Arsenal and many manufacturers and suppliers located in Alabama have elevated the state’s role in the effort.

An industry source noted that Brooks’ stance helps solidify the state’s position even further because of the amount of investments that members of its own industry have already made in the program.

The program, called Launch Services Agreement (LSA), awarded three companies the opportunity to develop launch vehicles for use in national security space missions under public-private partnerships.

News of the award to carry national security payloads brought praise from Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) and others.

The companies entered into LSA with the understanding that certain performance requirements were necessary to participate in a second phase of the program where the Air Force would only call on the top two providers.

As a result, companies became incentivized to make substantial investments for the opportunity to participate in the second phase.

Not proceeding as planned has some in the industry concerned that companies who fell behind, or were not willing to invest the necessary resources, could end up getting rewarded.

“It is important that the Air Force pick two providers and continue upon the path for LSA that they have begun,” an industry source stated.

A source told Yellowhammer News that Brooks plans to ask other members of Alabama’s congressional delegation to sign onto the letter in support of the state’s aerospace industry before he sends it to Wilson.

Brooks gained reappointment this year to the influential Science, Space and Technology Committee, which has jurisdiction over all NASA programs.

Brooks is now the second most senior Republican on the committee.

Tim Howe is an owner and editor of Yellowhammer News