Pentagon to propose a lean Space Force

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SN Military.Space Sandra Erwin

We are starting to get a clearer picture of how the Pentagon plans to fund and organize the Space Force as a new military branch. According to an internal memo that shaped the DoD budget request for fiscal year 2020, the Pentagon will need approximately $270 million to stand up a Space Force headquarters, a Space Development Agency and U.S. Space Command.

IS THAT ALL? The amount is modest compared to multibillion-dollar estimates that have been floated. But the 2020 budget is just the starting point. The Pentagon memo suggests that the Space Force, if Congress authorizes it in 2020, would grow in size and budget over the next several years as it takes on new missions and deals with growing threats to space security.

TRANSFER OF RESOURCES Most of the Space Force money and people would come from the Air Force. The new branch would be an independent service within the Department of the Air Force. It could end up absorbing more than $8 billion worth of space programs and personnel that currently are in the Air Force’s budget. When you add the Army’s and the Navy’s space programs, about $10 billion in resources would shift to the Space Force.

WHAT WILL SDA DO? For the first time, we’re hearing about what projects could be assigned to the Space Development Agency. According to the Pentagon memo, the SDA would take on the design of a resilient communications and data transport architecture, a prototype missile warning constellation, small satellite sensor technology, the acquisition of commercial space situational awareness and small to medium payload launch services. This essentially confirms what many in the industry suspected: that the Missile Defense Agency’s Space Sensor Layer program is almost certain to be reassigned to the Space Development Agency.

SASC HEARINGS PLANNED The chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) told reporters on Tuesday that he plans to hold hearings on the Space Force but could not say when exactly. The committee docket is pretty full so the Space Force hearings may be delayed. Inhofe was previously skeptical of the need to create a new military branch but now appears more receptive to the idea.

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