WASHINGTON — The Pentagon’s budget request for fiscal year 2021 includes $88 million to complete the construction of a Consolidated Space Operations Facility at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado.

The CSOF was requested two years ago by the U.S. Air Force Space Command and U.S. Strategic Command to meet growing demands for secure facilities for military space operators and analysts from the intelligence community. The facility is funded in the U.S. Air Force budget and will be used by the U.S. Space Force and U.S. Space Command.

Congress in the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act approved $148 million for the CSOF. A portion of the funds were appropriated in last year’s budget to pay for the design and some construction work. The $88 million requested in 2021 — as part of the Air Force $767 million military construction budget — would allow the Air Force to complete the facility by March 2022, according to budget documents.

“The CSOF is a next-generation facility,” Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.) said Feb. 11 at the National Press Club during a conference hosted by the Space Foundation.

He said the facility is a top priority of the Joint Task Force Space Defense, a new organization that is part of U.S. Space Command. The JTF-SD, along with the U.S. intelligence community, operates the classified National Space Defense Center, where operators and analysts monitoring potential threats in outer space and draw up options to defend satellites if they come under attack.

According to Air Force justification documents submitted to Congress in March, the CSOF will be a three-story secure facility. “The entire CSOF is a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility (SCIF),” the documents state. It will have a 500-person SCIF auditorium for secure briefings and conferences and a dining area to support 24/7 operations.

The Air Force said collocating the Joint Task Force with the National Space Defense Center is “imperative to achieve operational command and control directives.”

The National Space Defense Center was established in 2016 and has experienced significant growth, the Air Force justification documents said. “The renovated facility currently serving NSDC is undersized and cannot continue to meet all operational requirements.”

At the Space Foundation event, Lamborn said the investments made by the Air Force in military space infrastructure in Colorado such as the CSOF is one reason the Pentagon “needs to make a permanent decision as to where U.S. Space Command will be located.”

A decision on announcing the permanent site for U.S. Space Command’s headquarters has been delayed with no explanation, Lamborn said.

The Air Force last year said the finalists were Alabama’s Redstone Arsenal, California’s Vandenberg Air Force Base and Colorado’s Peterson Air Force Base, Buckley Air Force Base, Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station, and Schriever Air Force Base. The command is currently based at Peterson and would have to move as soon as a decision is made. Other states, including Florida and Texas, have lobbied the Trump administration to have their bases added to the short list.

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...