WASHINGTON — President Biden has nominated the deputy director of the National Reconnaissance Office Maj. Gen. Michael Guetlein for promotion to lieutenant general and assignment as commander of the U.S. Space Force Space Systems Command.

The White House submitted Guetlein’s nomination to the U.S. Senate July 13 to be considered by the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Space Systems Command is a new organization the Space Force will stand up Los Angeles to oversee the development of next-generation technologies and the procurement of satellites and launch services.

The new command will take over responsibilities currently performed by the Space and Missile Systems Center and by the Space Force launch wings in Florida and California that currently are not part of SMC. 

Altogether SSC will oversee a workforce of about 10,000 people. The Space Force will re-designate the Space and Missile Systems Center as SSC headquarters. 

Guetlein has been deputy director of the National Reconnaissance Office since July 2019. The NRO is part of the U.S. intelligence community and works with the Department of Defense developing, acquiring, launching and operating the nation’s intelligence satellites.

Before joining the NRO, Guetlein served as a program executive officer at the Missile Defense Agency.

The appointment of an NRO official to oversee Space Force acquisitions is likely to be viewed favorably by lawmakers who have criticized the military space branch for the slow pace of its acquisition programs and have called on the Space Force to use a more streamlined process like the NRO. 

Rep. Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.), chairman of the House Armed Services Committee’s strategic forces subcommittee, said he advocated for a separate space service “because the Air Force was neglecting its space mission and not performing as well as the NRO.”

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...