WASHINGTON — The longer the U.S. government operates under a continuing resolution, the higher the probability that national security space launches will see major delays, Chief of Space Operations Gen. John “Jay” Raymond said Jan. 18. 

The Space Force requested funding for five national security launches in fiscal year 2022. Under a CR, government funding is frozen at the previous year’s levels and the Space Force had funding for three missions in 2021. If lawmakers don’t reach an agreement next month on fiscal 2022 spending and a CR continues, two missions funded in 2022 would have to be pushed into the 2023 budget or beyond, Raymond said at a Mitchell Institute event.

“If we get a budget in February, we would continue with our five launches, but if we enter into a long term CR, we would have to reduce two of those five launches,” said Raymond.

The Space Systems Command already has identified which two missions would be removed from the 2022 budget if it came to that, said Raymond, “and they are really important launches for us as we compete to win against Russia and China,” he added. “So again I cannot stress enough the importance of getting a budget passed.”

These launch delays would affect both national security launch services providers United Launch Alliance and SpaceX. 

Protracted CRs significantly impact the military’s launch program because missions are procured two years in advance, Raymond said. “A l0ng term CR would have ripple effects, so it’s more than just a one year impact” as missions that would have been procured in 2022 would slip to 2023 or 2024, and 2023 missions could be pushed to 2024 and 2025. 

The current CR expires Feb. 18. The House has passed nine of 12 federal spending bills for fiscal 2022 but Senate appropriators have approved only three. And none of these bills have made it to the president’s desk. 

Sandra Erwin writes about military space programs, policy, technology and the industry that supports this sector. She has covered the military, the Pentagon, Congress and the defense industry for nearly two decades as editor of NDIA’s National Defense...