The U.S. will likely not have a competitive space launch industry by the industry-set goal of 2019, according to Lt. Gen. Samuel Greaves, commander of the Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center.
“In our research, we assessed that industry timelines predicting complete rocket propulsion systems by 2019 are aggressive,” Greaves said Friday morning at a breakfast held by the Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies.
“History has consistently shown that developing, testing, and maturing an engine takes six or seven years, with another year or two beyond that to be able to integrate into the launch vehicle,” the general said.
But he noted that both the military and companies are “moving very fast on this,” and that he expects the nation’s private space capabilities to be fully deployed by the 2020s and 2030s.
“This is a very exciting time in launch,” Greaves said. “We are transitioning to a future where at least two domestically produced, commercially viable launch systems are certified to meet national security space requirements.”