Space force

Space Force urged to use one company to handle national security launch integration

WASHINGTON — As the US Space Force plans an increasing number of national security launches in the coming years, House lawmakers want the service to choose a single company to handle launch integration.

In its version of the fiscal year 2023 defense policy bill, the House Armed Forces Strategic Forces Subcommittee praised the Space Force for increasing competition in the space launch business. of national security. Still, he wants the service to consider selecting a company to serve as the common launch integrator that handles the missions.

“The committee understands that using a common launch integrator that works with departmental customers, satellite manufacturers and launch vendors can provide tested space vehicle integration processes,” the lawmakers wrote in the draft markup published on June 7. “The committee believes this approach could be an effective method to reduce costs, reduce launch readiness times and increase competition for launch vendors.

The provision directs the Space Force to notify lawmakers by February of the potential benefits of a shared launch integrator. The intention is to explore options to mitigate the cost and schedule risk inherent in the launcher integration process, Committee staffers told reporters.

“It looked like something they should at least look at if it reduced the time between getting a capability on a launch vehicle and getting it into orbit,” said a committee staffer, who asked not to. not be identified.

Other sections of the bill call on the Space Force and the National Reconnaissance Bureau, which develops and operates spy satellites, to consider increasing the use of commercial space capabilities.

In one such provision, lawmakers direct the NRO to accelerate its plans to take greater advantage of commercial synthetic aperture radar satellites, which carry advanced sensors capable of seeing through adverse weather conditions and providing accurate ground movement data. The ability was in high demand during Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“The committee recommends that the NRO accelerate, where possible, the adoption and integration of proven, high-performance U.S. commercial SAR systems by working proactively with industry to apply domestic commercial solutions to deficiencies. intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities of the Department of Defense, and provide on-ramps to new capabilities as they become available,” the lawmakers say.

Another provision directs the Department of Defense to notify Congress of its use of commercial radio frequency remote sensing capabilities in exercises, experiments, and war games. These satellites help detect threats such as GPS jamming.

Lawmakers also want Pentagon leaders to provide details on how the capability could be incorporated into future operations and what options exist for purchasing the data from commercial vendors.