The secretive Aerospace Corporation is finding a new niche.
The company, which gets almost all of its funding from the Pentagon, is responsible for overseeing many of the nation's most classified programs, including the development of multibillion-dollar spy satellites and rockets that lift them into space.
What is Aerospace?
So it is a private company, that get's all of it's funding from taxpayers?
Aerospace is neither a defense contractor nor part of the Air Force, which manages military space programs.
Rather, Aerospace is a federally funded brain trust for the Pentagon's $26-billion space program, which far exceeds NASA's budget of $18 billion and has increased almost 90% since 2000. Although it's not well known outside defense circles, it is regarded as one of the nation's most important assets.
Aerospace scientists oversee the technical side of contracts awarded to defense firms to make sure the work is being done properly. A separate Pentagon agency audits the contracts.
The firm also provides consultation and advice to both the government and the defense industry on how to best develop spacecraft. In all, 87% of its budget comes from military contracts and the rest from civilian government agencies such as NASA.
"Aerospace is the glue to the Pentagon's space infrastructure," said John Pike, director of Globalsecurity.org, a website for military policy research. "It's an independent voice that's has become a vital component to national security."
Despite proposed cutbacks in Pentagon spending, Aerospace's budget increased to $868 million last year — its largest (budget)
In addition to its potential new role for private space ventures, the National Reconnaissance Office, or NRO, the umbrella organization that operates spy satellites, has said it's set to begin "the most aggressive" launch schedule it has undertaken in 25 years. That is expected to keep Aerospace engineers and scientists busy for a while.
Spy satellites and the X37-B......
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