General John Raymond, commander of U.S. Space Command and Air Force Space Command, speaks at the Air Force Association’s aerospace and cyber conference September 16, 2019 in National Harbor, Md.
Technology. Sgt. Armando Schwier-Morales | US Air Forces
WASHINGTON – The country’s top general who heads the U.S. military mission in space said Wednesday he was excited about Wall Street and the billionaire’s investment in the space industry, which is generating renewed interest in the area and strong recruitment among Americans in the recent Pentagon office.
“There is a lot of excitement all over America about space,” said General John Raymond, the US Space Force’s chief of operations, when asked by CNBC about the steps taken by private space companies like Elon Musk’s SpaceX.
“I’ve talked about people knocking on our door who want to join the Space Force in greater numbers than we have to occupy. I’ve talked in the past about how universities are seeing more students sign up for space STEM – Apply for degrees I think it’s going to be great for our nation, “added Raymond.
“I am pleased with everything that we are doing here in relation to national security as well as what is going on in the commercial industry so that we can take advantage of it,” said the four-star general, without any company specifically to name.
“The US has always understood that with a safe and stable space domain we are stronger, and all of these sectors play a role,” said Raymond.
The US Space Force, the Pentagon’s newest branch, has increasingly sought to partner with the private sector as businesses and investors flock to the space industry. The Pentagon is closely monitoring the advances made by rocket makers like Rocket Lab, Astra, and Virgin Orbit alongside SpaceX.
Raymond’s comments followed SpaceX, announcing this week that it will fly its first all-civilian crew into orbit later this year, a mission known as Inspiration 4.
The milestone flight, led by billionaire Jared Isaacman, aims to harness high-profile space tourism to raise support for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Three unannounced passengers will accompany Isaacman on the multi-day trip around the world. Two of the places will be determined in online public competitions this month.
Raymond also proclaimed NASA’s Crew-1 mission, which was the first operational launch of the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft.
“If you look at what’s going on with US astronaut launch in the civilian sector, and that last Japanese astronaut launch from US soil in a commercial launcher, there’s a lot of excitement there,” he said.
Raymond made no response Tuesday to SpaceX’s Starship missile test flight, which resulted in an explosion while attempting to land.
The SN9 prototype spacecraft launched successfully to around 33,000 feet, but like the previous prototype flight in December, the missile hit the ground while attempting to land.
Private investments in space companies set a new annual record last year, amid industry fears the Covid-19 pandemic could end the dynamism of the past decade, according to a report from Space Capital last month. Rocket and satellite makers raised $ 8.9 billion in 2020, with venture capital and angel investors continuing to pour funds into space companies.
Correction: In an earlier version of this story, General John Raymond was misquoted. The story has been updated to reflect the correct quote.