Space force

Senators call for $2 billion increase in Space Force budget for missile defense and reactive launch

WASHINGTON — Senate lawmakers want to boost the Space Force budget by more than $2 billion to support the development of missile warning satellites, responsive launch capabilities, and improved testing and training infrastructure.

The proposed increase is part of the Senate Appropriations Committee’s $792 billion spending plan for fiscal year 2023, released July 28. lawmakers approved in June.

In a report released with its bill last week, the committee called space one of its top priorities, noting that part of the $2.2 billion increase is focused on capabilities. hypersonic missile tracking systems and would support Space Force’s move to a more resilient distributed architecture. .

The bill’s major space-focused funding increases include $700 million to expedite the purchase of Space Development Agency missile warning and tracking satellites and support a new constellation of space vehicles in medium Earth orbit, which is between 1,243 and 22,236 miles (2,000 to 35,785 kilometers) above the earth’s surface. It is also proposing an additional $216 million to speed up launches of SDA missile warning and tracking satellites.

The committee’s show of support for space-based missile warning and tracking systems comes as the Space Force reports growing threats from adversaries, including China and Russia, who are developing and demonstrating hypersonic weapons that can move at speeds above Mach 5.

Service projects will require $24.5 billion to develop and acquire missile warning and tracking systems over the next five years to develop the space infrared system suite through a program called Persistent Infrared. next-generation air force and to build other constellations that will augment this mission into new orbits.

The committee said it agrees with the Space Force’s plan to redesign its missile warning and tracking architecture, but wants details on program progress and a comparison of cost, schedule and the risks associated with each.

Lawmakers also want to see the Space Force invest more in satellite resiliency, adding $250 million to their bill for an initiative to improve onboard protection of important space assets. The bill doesn’t dictate how the service should spend the money, but recommends that it develop an acquisition strategy to provide “a suite of on-board capabilities” that could be made available to program managers for onboarding. on their satellites or ground systems. The committee also suggests that the service make onboard resilience a requirement when developing new satellites.

The bill also calls for a $250 million increase “to fill a critical gap” in Space Force testing and training infrastructure. The increase comes as the service is in the early stages of developing a national space testing and training complex that would help space operators and testers connect virtually to practice tactics and evaluate new space systems.

In space launch, lawmakers have proposed $100 million for the Tactical Reactive Launch Program. The effort was initiated by Congress, and while the service is pursuing responsive space capabilities that would allow it to rapidly replace or augment satellites on short notice, it has not committed to funding the program.

Congress has appropriated $115 million for the program since fiscal year 2020 and has repeatedly asked Space Force to develop an acquisition plan. Senate appropriation officials are continuing that push, ordering the service to provide a “timely” plan.

Lawmakers also proposed a $96 million increase for a range of Space Force technology development initiatives, including a project to build cyber resilience and an effort to improve space domain awareness near the surface. moon.