WASHINGTON — Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), the top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, released a white paper May 29 calling for an increase in defense spending to fund cutting-edge technologies, including U.S. Space Force capabilities to compete with China’s growing military presence in space.

Wicker takes particular aim at China’s recent space advancements, warning that Beijing is pushing a “strategic breakout” and that its growing reliance on space assets is creating new vulnerabilities that the U.S. should be prepared to exploit.

Further, he argues that the Department of Defense should evolve its perception of the Space Force from an enabling service to one with formidable offensive potential that is uniquely positioned to disrupt adversaries’ space-enabled networks.

While acknowledging the Space Force’s budgetary growth since its inception, Wicker stresses the need for procuring classified programs under development at a larger scale. He points out that China’s increasing reliance on space capabilities creates new vulnerabilities for Beijing, as its over-the-horizon “kill chains” heavily depend on space assets.

More cybersecurity

The paper calls for the Space Force to invest in designing a more capable, layered, and networked satellite architecture across multiple orbits. This would enable military operations to deter and defend against adversary actions in air, land, and sea while leveraging various satellite types and orbits to fortify existing defensive capabilities.

Wicker also emphasizes the need for upgrading satellite cybersecurity and anti-jamming features, and to rely on self-healing networks capable of autonomously mitigating attacks. Integrating government and commercial space systems into diverse and hybrid constellations could thwart adversary disruption strategies by disaggregating payloads and nodes.

With regard to space launch, Wicker says the launch industry “cannot be allowed to consolidate or stop driving down cost-per-launch.” 

He emphasizes the importance of the Space Force leveraging commercial developments in the space domain, harnessing capabilities in areas such as communications, geospatial collection, earth sensing, space domain awareness constellations, advanced software, ground processing, and machine learning.

Wicker notes that the Space Force and the Space Command submitted more than $2 billion worth of “unfunded requests” in the fiscal year 2025 budget, “which underscores the need for increased investment to maintain the U.S. advantage in space.”

Wicker’s white paper arrives as Congress is gearing up for what’s expected to be a contentious fight over top-line federal spending levels amid the heat of a presidential election year. 

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...