Through global reach and global power, we have the ability to hold the interests of any adversary in the world at risk within minutes. But, there is one vulnerability that threatens to significantly degrade our ability to not only project power abroad, but protect our own homeland – electromagnetic pulse. The American Leadership and Policy Foundation has produced objective, vetted research that exposes the vulnerabilities of the United States’ power grid and, more specifically, the nuclear power grid and associated generation facilities. While the threats of EMP caused by a high-altitude nuclear detonation, or the similar force of massive geomagnetic disturbance event, are neither novel nor probable, they represent a real existential threat that could render useless all means of offensive and defensive actions in all domains of military operations.
Each quarter the American Leadership and Policy Foundation interviews individuals who are true American leaders to feature in its “National Leaders” series. These individuals are patriots that have made great, meaningful contributions to the United States of America and its citizenry.
Natascha F. Saunders, Director of Fellowships (Interim) and Senior Fellow at the American Leadership & Policy Foundation, had a chance to interview Phil Sumrall, Ret’11 NASA, who currently serves as a consultant and subject matter expert in the areas of aerospace design, advanced technology, and programmatic planning. Mr. Sumrall has also presented numerous scholarly papers to panels at conferences, forums, and symposiums such as: International Astronautical Congresses, AIAA Joint Propulsion Conferences, annual AIAA Space Conferences, and the international Space Propulsion Conference in 2008 and 2010.
Historically, military powers have endeavored to exploit the advantages afforded by holding the high ground on the battlefield. Beginning in World War I with the introduction of the airplane and the new perspective it offered, the high ground migrated to the air. By the late 20th century, war fighters had greatly advanced the application of airpower. Today, aided by technology, the high ground has shifted to space.
American Leadership and Policy Foundation Senior Fellow, Phil Sumrall joined the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center in 1962 as a member of the Wernher von Braun team that developed the Saturn family of launch vehicles used in the Apollo Program. Later he worked on Saturn improvement studies and other advanced concepts including launch vehicles, the Hubble Space Telescope, the Skylabspace station and the Space Shuttle concept definition.
He was named Chief of the Space Exploration Office at the Center in 1989, a position in which he was the Agency focalpoint for concept definition of all space transportation elements required to transport humans between Earth and the surface of Mars.