Betty J. Sapp (above), the director of the National Reconnaissance Officer, said a new space battle management operations center will allow the intelligence community to experiment with new operations in space. Credit: USGIF

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Defense Department announced Sept. 11 that a new space operations center for the Pentagon and intelligence community will begin testing and experiments Oct. 1 at Schriever Air Force Base in Colorado.

Pentagon officials disclosed in June that the Defense Department and Office of the Director of National Intelligence were planning a space battle management center, known as the Joint Interagency Combined Space Operations Center, or JICSpOC, to better address the rapidly evolving threat environment.

“The JICSpOC experimentation and test effort will boost the ability to detect, characterize, and attribute irresponsible or threatening space activity in a timely manner,” a press release said.

The new site would serve as a hub of experimentation that could later be inserted into the Joint Space Operations Center, located at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The JSpOC supports the full range of U.S. military space activities including launch, satellite maneuvers and collision avoidance, drawing on data from sources including the Pentagon’s Space Surveillance Network.

The Pentagon and intelligence community are expected to contribute a combined $16 million in fiscal year 2015 funds and 30 employees to the project, the release said. Future budget costs have not yet been determined, the release said.

An initial round of experiments, as well as plans for incorporating the results of those experiments into a standard operating procedures at the JSpOC, are expected be completed by Jan. 1, 2017.

Betty Sapp, the director of the National Reconnaissance Office, acknowledged during a panel session here Sept. 10 at the Intelligence and National Security Summit that the new center would be used to “practice where we need to be” in a threatened environment.

The Air Force will house the center at Schriever, Lt. Gen. David Buck, commander of the Joint Functional Component Command for Space, said during a breakfast here Sept. 11.

Mike Gruss covers military space issues, including the U.S. Air Force and Missile Defense Agency, for SpaceNews. He is a graduate of Miami University in Oxford, Ohio.