WASHINGTON — The House Armed Services Committee’s strategic forces subcommittee is proposing legislation that would require DoD to share threat intelligence with commercial satellite operators. 

This is one of several proposals in the subcommittee’s draft bill for the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2024. Subcommittee Chairman Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.) and Ranking Member Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.) released their proposal June 12 and scheduled a markup of the bill June 13. 

The draft bill:

  • Requires DoD to submit a plan to share threat information with commercial space operators.
  • Requires a review of classification guidance before granting milestone approval of space major defense acquisition programs.
  • Requires DoD to establish a process to identify and evaluate commercial space situational awareness capabilities and to develop and implement a plan to integrate that data into Space Force operational systems.
  • Establishes a Space National Guard limited to those states and territories with Air National Guard units currently performing space missions.
  • Establishes a single military personnel management system for the United States Space Force.

Sharing data with commercial operators

“Commercial space providers that contract with the Department of Defense are vulnerable to physical and cyber threats; and the United States Space Command has established the commercial integration cell to aid in the integration and protection of United States satellites and to build awareness of threats,” the draft bill says.

The U.S. Space Force and U.S. Space Command are directed to develop a plan to expand existing threat-sharing arrangements with commercial space operators tha are under contract with the Department of Defense.

They also have to establish a process to regularly identify and evaluate commercial space situational awareness capabilities, including the extent to which commercial space situational awareness data could meet Space Force space situational awareness needs; and develop and implement a plan to integrate the unified data library into Space Force operational systems.

Other provisions on space policy and programs

In a report accompanying the NDAA proposal, the subcommittee included other space-related provisions. 

The National Reconnaissance Office has to submit a report on its planned acquisition strategy and schedule for commercial space-based remote sensing phenomenologies like synthetic-aperture radar, radio frequency and hyperspectral. The briefing should include an update on how commercial data is ingested in the NRO’s imagery distribution architecture.

The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency has to submit a report identifying classified and unclassified data analytics tasks that may best be performed or augmented by commercial vendors. 

The Space Force has to provide the committee an update on the National Space Test and Training Complex, including plans to incorporate modeling and simulation in a multi-level security framework, and the full cost of the NSTTC.

The Department of the Air Force is directed to report back on the status of the Navigation Technology Satellite-3, an upcoming experiment to demonstrate space-based positioning, navigation and timing (PNT) to augment the Global Positioning System (GPS). The committee wants details on the Air Force’s plans to transition technologies demonstrated with NTS-3 to programs of record.

The Space Development Agency has to submit a report on its use of multibeam active phased array antennas for its low Earth orbit Proliferated Warfighter Space Architecture. “The Space Development Agency should prioritize on-orbit capabilities that maximize communication flexibility and connection with a variety of ground terminals, including tactical terminals.”

The Department of the Air Force has to provide an update on small business participation in the emerging activities of the Space Systems Command’s Commercial Space Office, including the current distribution of contract awards. “The briefing should also include an analysis of prime contractor subcontractor relations and any impacts to programs as a result of poor communication, data management, or technology integration.”

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...