Defense policy bill gives a budget boost to space programs

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The NDAA authorized a $645.7 million increase for military space programs in fiscal year 2022

WASHINGTON — The 2022 National Defense Authorization Act — which Congress just passed and now awaits the president’s signature — adds more than $645 million to Defense Department space programs above the Biden administration’s request, analysts estimated. 

“Space industry leaders on the whole should be pleased with the NDAA,” said a Dec. 16 report by the consulting firm Avascent. 

The president’s budget request for fiscal year 2022 includes $15.3 billion for procurement, research and development of space systems and technologies, an increase of 13.8% above what Congress appropriated in 2021. The NDAA authorizes a $645.7 million increase — 4.2% more than the president’s request, and 18.6% more than 2021 appropriations.

 Of the $645.7 million boost, $548.7 million is for U.S. Space Force satellites and launch vehicle programs, and includes $205.2 million for classified programs, said the Avascent report. Space funding in the NDAA also was increased for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the Space Development Agency and the Missile Defense Agency. 

Congress in the NDAA “sent a clear message that it’s ‘all in’ for space,” the report said. 

Avascent analyst Andrew Penn, who co-wrote the report, noted that funding authorized in the NDAA still has to be appropriated by Congress before it can be spent so it’s still not a given that appropriators will approve every item in the NDAA. 

“The appropriators make the final calls. But the NDAA does ensure there is a high enough ceiling for them to work with and represents a bipartisan starting point,” said Penn. 

The Congressional Research Service said the NDAA historically has “provided a fairly reliable indicator of congressional sentiment on subsequent appropriations for particular programs.”