Space is no longer a benign operating environment and is becoming ever more congested, contested, and competitive.  Success in modern warfare depends on effects delivered by and through space-based capabilities from GPS, to weather, to imagery, to missile warning, and communications.  Near-peer competitors are aggressively developing, testing, and deploying capabilities to counter America’s strategic military advantage on the “ultimate high ground.”  Our current space architectures are vulnerable to attacks.  Vulnerability is provocative.  We must build more resilient architectures capable of withstanding and recovering from attacks.  The Department of Defense needs to develop rapid reconstitution options, proliferate capability across DOD, allied, and commercial constellations, and enhance protection among commercial systems. 

Our current space architectures are generally walled off from each other creating unnecessary challenges and inefficiencies for our warfighters.  Custom-built, stove-piped space systems drain manpower and sustainment resources, inhibit timely information sharing and real-time situational awareness, and make it difficult to insert competitively awarded plug-and-play capability upgrades.  In particular, ground segments must be considered as an enterprise with maximum interoperability.  The DOD should begin to integrate architectures by requiring multiband terminals and implementing a strategy to automate commercial and military information sharing. 

DOD space systems often suffer from cost and schedule overruns during acquisition, and high sustainment costs and diminishing technological superiority once fielded.  While some defense missions have no commercial equivalent, there are plenty of opportunities to integrate commercial solutions.  Leveraging commercial enhances resiliency and reduces costs.  Buying data and services in a competitive market is often more affordable compared to DOD buying, owning, operating, and sustaining its own systems.  In some cases, modified commercial solutions can meet specific military requirements.  DOD should leverage commercial solutions by better utilizing hosted payloads, buying commercial satellite communication services, and purchasing commercial weather data and services.   


Space has been a relative sanctuary from geopolitical competition for the United States and the world for generations.  As technologies mature, the cost of access to space decreases, and more countries develop space programs, this sanctuary will be increasingly threatened.  The trend lines are clear:  Space is becoming more congested, contested, and competitive.  In fact, space is a critically important warfighting domain.

The congressionally chartered U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission’s (USCC) latest report assesses that the People’s Republic of China “continues to develop a variety of capabilities designed to limit or prevent the use of space-based assets by adversaries during a crisis or conflict, including the development of directed-energy weapons and satellite jammers.”

The USCC report describes development and testing of specific Chinese capabilities.  For example, in 2007, China used a direct ascent anti-satellite (ASAT) missile to kinetically destroy a defunct satellite in low earth orbit, creating thousands of pieces of orbital debris.  This reckless military demonstration damaged low earth orbit for all responsible actors for generations.  Additionally, it appears China has recently tested direct ascent ASAT capabilities to Geostationary orbit, where America’s nuclear-hardened, secure, strategic communications satellites reside.  Beijing claims such tests were “science experiments.”  The Chinese have also been developing and testing orbital rendezvous and proximity operations (RPO) that lead to long-lasting co-orbital threats which provide space-faring nations limited indications and warning prior to an attack that could be kinetic, jamming, spoofing, or simply collecting.  As the Chinese military builds and launches its own space station, they will further perfect RPO capabilities.

Correspondingly, numerous open source reports show that Russia has  been developing, testing, and fielding directed-energy weapons and satellite jammers.  Moscow has also tested direct ascent anti-satellite missiles and co-orbital capabilities.

History shows that high-end military technologies begin as the provenance of a small number of military powers, but diffuses to, and proliferates among, less powerful actors.

In this environment, we should expect less powerful state and non-state actors to acquire and further proliferate relatively unsophisticated threats (i.e., cheaper and less powerful, but still dangerous) around the world including off-the-shelf jamming and laser dazzling capabilities.

As the probability of conflict extending into space increases, doctrine development and promulgation becomes more important.  Doctrine establishes clear criteria for responding to different types of hostile acts in space against a range of assets.  It also establishes clear lines of authority to ensure unity of command and clear organizational roles and responsibilities in peacetime and conflict.  I am not confident that the United States has a well-developed doctrine for deterring and fighting a space war.  Ambiguity over what the United State values in space encourages our adversaries to “test the limits” and engage in more provocative behavior.  Ambiguity over command-and-control makes responses more fragmented, ad-hoc, and less effective.  This uncertainty seems particurlarly acute in terms of wartime authorities for Department of Defense and Intelligence Community space assets and personnel.

Requires the President to develop doctrine for the Armed Forces and Intelligence Community governing the U.S. response to deliberately hostile acts against USG, commercial, and allied/partner space assets. 

The complexity of DOD space issues and numerous institutional stakeholders has made generating consensus across the DOD Space Enterprise difficult to achieve.  However, those threatening our National Security Space (NSS) systems have continued to advance as DOD struggles to “coordinate” the various perspectives and interests into enterprise-wide space governance.  In response, the Deputy Secretary of Defense established the Principal Defense Space Advisor (PDSA) to provide more focused governance across the entire DOD Space Enterprise.   Relative to Executive Agent for Space, PDSA has strengthened and sharpened portfolio enterprise-wide authorities and responsibilities.

According to the DEPSECDEF memo, the PDSA will “oversee all departmental space matters, including policies, strategies, plans, programming, and architecture assessments across the DOD Space Enterprise.  In addition, the PDSA will advance NSS strategies through established processes for planning, programming, budgeting, and execution, space program acquisition, and space policy development. Furthermore, the PDSA will fulfill the requirement for a Principal DOD Space Control Advisor as defined in the FY16 National Defense Authorization Act.”

Codifies the roles and responsibilities of the Principal Defense Space Advisor consistent with DEPSECDEF memo (Oct 2015).

Space and cyber data sharing among operations centers and with other U.S. government organizations must be increasingly rapid.  General John Hyten, Commander of Air Force Space Command, has raised attention to barriers inhibiting timely information sharing across domains.  In a recent letter to me, General Hyten stated: “The single biggest barrier we face today is a lack of interoperability between current systems preventing automated sharing and ‘discovery’ of information between weapons systems and across networks.”

Standalone “stovepiped” systems – each with different “hardware” and “software” – make the data sharing process labor intensive, time consuming, and person-to-person.  The Air Force’s FY17 budget request includes funding for Enterprise Ground Services, an initiative to begin the process of deploying a “common operating system” across protected communications, missile warning, GPS, and weather systems.  DOD needs to pursue EGS and other capabilities to ensure rapid information sharing, particularly cross domain.

Requires SECDEF to develop a strategy to enhance automation and increase interoperability between systems which share space and cyberspace situational awareness information across the DOD.

In many cases, space systems are not acquired and fielded in a synchronized fashion.  Instead, the different “segments” – satellites, ground systems, and end user equipment (e.g, terminals) – often reach operational capabilities at vastly different times.  Misalignment of segment program management and funding schedules often result in cost overruns, delays, and even unused space-based capability and capacity.  In some cases, spacecraft acquisition programs and ground acquisition programs are managed by entirely different military services.

A U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) report shows the costs to the warfighter and taxpayer of numerous space systems including the following:

  • Delays of the Operational Control Segment (OCX) for GPS III will result in multiple years of unutilized satellite capabilities.  According to GAO, the delayed OCX program places at risk the DOD’s operational GPS constellation, since GPS III satellites may be needed to replace older satellites before OCX is available to control them.
  • The Family of Advanced Beyond Line-of-Sight Terminals (FAB-T) is a terminal program for the AEHF satellite constellation which is vital to nuclear command and control.  The terminals have experienced 10 years of delays and cost growth.
  • The Space Based Infrared System (SBIRS) ground system delays have resulted in 5 years of unutilized SBIRS satellites.  The system will not be fully operation until 2018, when processing capability will be added to mobile ground terminals.
  • Over 90% of the Mobile User Objective System (MUOS) capacity is unutilized because of challenges integrating the Wideband Code Division Multiple Access (WCDMA) waveform with ground stations and terminals.  While MUOS is a Navy program, the Army will field radios capable of sending and receiving the waveform in 2016, four years after the first MUOS satellite was launched.

Next-generation space systems will compete with other high-priority DOD modernization programs during the coming “bow wave” of major recapitalization programs across the Services.  We cannot afford to repeat the massive schedule delays and cost overruns plaguing the space programs of the past.  Space systems must be acquired and fielded in a synchronized fashion to maximize useful life of systems and technological advantages.

Requires annual SECDEF “integrated program” certification for major satellite acquisition programs to ensure major segments (space segment, ground segment, and terminals) are delivered and acquired in a synchronized manner.  Prohibits Milestone C approval for non-integrated major satellite acquisition programs. Enforces Section 911 of FY13 National Defense Authorization Act by limiting funding for the Office of Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics (USD/AT&L) until Undersecretary certifies compliance with the existing statute. 

Hosting a government payload on a commercial satellite can distribute space-based capabilities, which improves architecture resiliency.  It can also save money for the taxpayer by sharing launch and operational costs with the commercial “host”.  Hosted payloads enable more rapid payload deployments because the development of an entire satellite system is not required.

Hosted Payloads – Requires SECDEF to leverage hosted payloads to the extent practical. After 2026, SECDEF shall give preference to hosted payloads launched on U.S. launch vehicles.  Requires all Analyses of Alternatives for space systems requiring launch to consider alternatives with hosted payloads.  Requires SECDEF to provide a plan to increase DOD utilization of hosted payloads through the Hosted Payload Solutions contract.  Plan includes criteria and standards for new entrants to qualify for HoPS certification. 

Commercial space operators are rapidly advancing the technological state of the art on timelines much faster than the DOD’s traditional acquisition approach can replicate.  Major technological advances have occurred in communications capacity and throughput, remote sensing and imagery, weather sensors and more.  Meeting DOD security requirements and other military-unique requirements presents a challenge to more fully incorporate commercial systems to take  advantage of the generational leaps in technology.  For example, on-orbit sensors and other space capabilities must be protected from cyber attacks, spoofing, jamming, dazzling and even kinetic threats.

This creates a chicken-and-egg scenario: DOD struggles to fully leverage available commercial systems because they lack security and protection features.  Yet, these companies need to understand and incorporate desired security and protection capabilities early in the production process.  Companies cannot justify making these security and protection investments to their boards and shareholders without some assurance that DOD will consider them for acquisition.

Protection Capability Enhancements for Commercial – Requires SECDEF assessment of desirable protection capabilities which commercial operators could integrate in systems prior to launch.  These protection capabilities would enhance the integration of commercial systems into national security space architectures.  Establishes a mechanism for SECDEF to consult with relevant commercial space industry representatives on findings and recommendations.      

Many next-generation commercial constellations will include hundreds or thousands of smaller satellites in low Earth orbit.  Large constellations of smaller satellites can complicate the targeting solutions for our enemies and distribute networks.  This can deter investments in direct ascent anti-satellite weapons.

The size of these constellations and the requirement to reconstitute satellites in low Earth orbit (which degrades) necessitates high volume satellite manufacturing.  The United States must be a leader in high volume satellite manufacturing to reduce costs, distribute architectures, and improve resiliency.

High Volume Satellite Manufacturing – Expresses a sense of Congress that DOD should examine opportunities offered by high-volume satellite manufacturing as the capability emerges, particularly in terms of cost reduction and resiliency enhancement.

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MINSTAR and Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF) systems currently provide the most protected satellite communications architecture for our most sensitive missions and stressing environments such as nuclear command and control.  The Defense Satellite Communications System (DSCS) and Wideband Global SATCOM (WGS) provide day-to-day routine SATCOM and also SATCOM for less sensitive and stressing missions and environments.  SATCOM demand has increased exponentially due to requirements in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria and the increased use of intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance data.  ISR requirements are seemingly insatiable.  DOD owned-and-operated systems cannot come close to meeting the demand.  Thus, DOD relies on commercial SATCOM (COMSATCOM) operators to provide approximately 80% of routine SATCOM requirements.  This fragmented architecture does not maximize resilience and lacks integration.  For example, WGS and many COMSATCOM systems operate in different frequency bands and utilize dedicated terminals lacking interoperability.  The stovepiped systems are not only fragmented, but expensive.  DOD buys COMSATCOM in the most inefficient way possible:  annual spot-market contracts using war budget funds.

Expresses a sense of Congress that current and future satellite communications architectures of the Department of Defense should be resilient, integrated, and include enterprise-level situational awareness networks.

The 2014 Department of Defense SATCOM Strategy  reported that government purchased, owned, and operated military wideband satellites cost less than leasing capacity from commercial operators already on-orbit.  In fact, the SATCOM Strategy report stated that commercial capacity leases are four times as expensive.  This would mark the first time in American history that the government operated more efficiently than the private sector by four fold.  It would appear that the cost comparisons are not apples to apples.  This can lead to incorrect decision making.

DOD is about to undertake a Wideband SATCOM AoA of enormous importance.  This AoA will help demonstrate if DOD is serious about developing a future architecture that is resilient, distributed, integrated, affordable, and takes advantage of COMSATCOM technological advances.  The alternative is business-as-usual whereby DOD procures, owns, and operates multibillion dollar, stovepiped constellations.

It’s critical that this AoA fully explores COMSATCOM options, makes accurate cost comparisons, and includes data derived from innovative SATCOM programs. It’s also important that an independent body check DOD’s work to ensure that the AoA meets these congressional directives.

Wideband AoA – Amends FY16 NDAA language on Wideband SATCOM AoA to ensure study makes informed and accurate MILSATCOM vs. COMSATCOM comparisons and considers commercial investments, technology insertion plans, and commercial acquisition models and capabilities.  Requires GAO review of the AoA to ensure compliance with Congressional directives.

Military wideband communication (MILSATCOM) satellites utilize the X and Ka band portions of the electromagnetic spectrum.  Commercial wideband communication (COMSATCOM) satellites utilize C and Ku band as well as a different portion of Ka band.  The terminals on manned and unmanned aircraft and ground assets are usually equipped to utilize the spectrum of either MILSATCOM or COMSATCOM, but not both.  An interoperability and usage efficiency challenge arises in matching the satellite capacity available with the terminals in theater.  Sometimes the right bandwidth is not available for the right terminal at the right place and time.  This limits the flexibility of Combatant Commanders.  Other times, we lease commercial bandwidth compatible with our commercial terminals, while the available military bandwidth goes unutilized.  This challenge can be alleviated by requiring terminals to be replaced with multiband capabilities when assets are recapitalized or they go through depot level maintenance.  Any asset needs to be able to utilize any SATCOM capacity available.

Multiband Terminals – Directs future SATCOM terminal acquisition programs to require multiband capability.  Requires SECDEF to approve any exception to this policy. 

High levels of protection are available through MILSTAR and AEHF for strategic missions such as nuclear command and control and Presidential communications.  While DSCS/WGS and COMSATCOM have some level of protection, more robust waveforms and systems are needed to ensure higher levels of protection at the tactical level.

The AEHF Space Modernization Initiative funds a step-by-step program to develop, demonstrate and test wideband SATCOM waveforms (i.e., Protected Tactical Waveform) and other system components (e.g., modems, encryption units) which make up the Protected Tactical Service.  PTS would offer more resilient and affordable tactical SATCOM over fielded government and commercial SATCOM systems.  Ultimately, PTS will be less susceptible to jamming with a lower probability of intercept.

Protected Tactical Service – Authorizes full funding for AEHF Space Modernization Initiative Protected Tactical Service demonstration and test programs. 

The Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC) SATCOM Pathfinder program is demonstrating that DOD can use other acquisition mechanisms to purchase COMSATCOM.  Rather than lease a block of capacity, the SMC Pathfinders will buy “hardware” such as transponders on commercial satellites prior to launch.  Eventually, the Air Force will “trade” the purchased transponders for portable access to an existing global commercial constellation.  A small upfront investment yields global access to capabilities paid for and operated by the private sector.

Space and Missile Systems Center Pathfinder Program – Authorizes full funding for SMC Pathfinders.

The SMC Pathfinder program demonstrates innovative acquisition methods.  DOD should experiment with pilot programs which offer access to cutting-edge SATCOM technologies such as high throughput capacity satellites (HCS).  Section 1612 of the FY16 NDAA modified a SATCOM pilot program established by Section 1605 of the FY15 NDAA.   The FY16 NDAA mandated that DOD select pilots which “demonstrate the potential to achieve order of magnitude improvements in satellite communications capability.”

Section 1605 Satellite Communications Pilot Program – Authorizes and requires $50 million for pilots pursuant to the program established by Section 1605 of the FY15 NDAA (as modified by Section 1612 of FY16 NDAA.)

The Multiple User Objective System (MUOS) is a narrowband space-based communications constellation with 90% of its capacity unutilized due to delays in terminals that can use the Wideband Code Division Multiple Access (WCDMA) waveform.  The United States needs to put this unutilized capacity to work.

Department of Homeland Security Narrowband Communications – Directs DHS to report on leveraging Multiple User Objective System SATCOM to complement existing communications systems.  Requires assessment of critical connectivity requirements, shortfalls, and ways to cover gapped requirements. 

Among other major technological advances, the smartphone revolution has dramatically increased demand for broadband communications, particularly for wireless mobile data services.  Terrestrial broadband providers have begun articulating the spectrum demands for 5G-level services.  Desired spectrum for 5G would intrude on the Ka-band necessary to support current and future satellite services use.  Satellite services serve rural and hard to reach locations that terrestrial broadband providers tend to ignore.  The Ka spectrum has military implications.  Military SATCOM is often in Ka.  Additionally, commercial satellites provide about 80% of DOD’s communications.  Increasingly, those systems use Ka.  5G is important and the warfighter will eventually use it for wireless mobile applications.  However, it’s important that satellite operators retain primary access to Ka and protection for their gateways from interference.

Preservation of Electromagnetic Spectrum Access – Requires the Federal Communications Commission to ensure that commercial satellites operating in geostationary and non-geostationary orbit have primary access to the electromagnetic spectrum in the 27.5-28.35 gigahertz band without the need to participate in an auction or to purchase in the secondary market.  This includes individually licensed Earth stations.

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The Global Positioning System is a U.S.-owned utility which provides users around the world with positioning, navigation, and timing (PNT) services.  The civilian service is freely available to all users on a continuous, worldwide basis. The military service is available to U.S. and allied armed forces as well as approved Government agencies.  GPS is absolutely critical for national security and economic prosperity.  GPS is a critical component for the tools of modern warfare such as precision guided bombing and all logistical operations.  Modern warfighting, road transport, aviation, shipping and rail transport, environmental monitoring, agricultural production, financial transactions and more would be devastated without GPS.

Expresses a sense of Congress on the importance of positioning, navigation, and timing (PNT) for national security and economic prosperity.  Requires SECDEF to provide a strategy to ensure DOD PNT leverages the best available signals from alternative PNT systems.  The strategy will address issues associated with monitoring and verifying accuracy, integrity, availability, security, and reliability of foreign PNT signals.  

DOD relies on legacy defense, civil, and international systems to meet weather requirements.  Success on the battlefield requires timely and accurate weather forecasting and prediction.  Quality, robust, and reliable data feed the models which generate the weather products delivered to the warfighter.  DOD has launched its last legacy Defense Meterological Satellite Program (DMSP) asset and the DMSP constellation will age out.  Civil weather capabilities provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) are high-risk programs.  In fact, NOAA may suffer a “weather gap” as its legacy polar orbiting satellites may die before a replacement is launched and becomes operational.  NOAA’s geostationary orbiting satellite strategy is also risky.  Reliance on foreign partners to cover defense requirements is fraught with risk.  For example, DOD relied on EUMETSAT, an intergovernmental group of 30 European countries – to provide critical theater weather imagery coverage of the Indian Ocean region.  However, EUMETSAT announced it would not replace the Meteosat-7 satellite providing that coverage.

There are also international threats to our weather architecture.  In 2007, the Chinese shot down one of their own weather satellites to demonstrate their capability.  In 2014, the National Weather Service was hacked, compelling NOAA to shut down weather satellites.

A recent weather requirements AoA concluded that DOD should rely on civil or international partners to meet its top two validated weather requirements.  Furthermore, the Air Force is requesting half a billion dollars over five years to develop a Weather Satellite Follow-on program.  The first WSF system will not launch until 2022 at the earliest.  These solutions are not optimum.

DOD should increasingly leverage the commercial space-based weather data industry.  Commericial weather systems can augment exisiting DOD, civil and international systems by feeding additional high-quality data into the Numerical Weather Models.  Commercial space-based weather data companies are providing data to a wide range of industries from transportation, to energy, to agriculture, to insurance.

If the DOD were one of many customers, costs would be distributed and the taxpayer would save money.  A robust, competitive marketplace for space-based weather data creates more suppliers, distributes the architecture, and complicates the targeting solutions of our enemies.  This deters investment in direct ascent anti-satellite missiles.

In the early stages, DOD could mostly buy data to augment exisiting systems.  Over time, DOD could increasingly meet validated requirements through purchasing tested, certified, reliable, and secure commercial weather data and services rather than purchasing, owning, and operating its own satellites.

Expresses a sense of Congress that space-based weather data and services can help mitigate gaps in critical weather requirements, increase architecture resilience, and augment legacy government weather systems.

President Bush established the National Executive Committee on Space-Based Positioning, Navigation, and Timing in 2004.  This permanent, joint, civil/ military NEC for GPS provides high-level coordination with and among Federal departments and agencies for the GPS strategic decisions regarding policies, architectures, requirements, and resource allocation.

Like GPS, weather is a “public good” which is critical to civil and military departments and agencies.  Weather-related matters deserve a similar high-level body to coordinate strategic decisions.

National Executive Committee on Weather – Requires the President to establish a National Executive Committee on Weather to coordinate weather-related matters across the departments and agencies of the Federal Government.  This will be modelled after the National Space-Based PNT Executive Committee.

Commercial weather data and services must integrate seamlessly into defense systems and meet DOD standards for quality, security, and reliability.  DOD should not drag its feet in working with industry to develop and promulgate robust but reasonable standards.

Commercial Weather Data Quality, Security, and Reliability Standards – Requires SECDEF to develop and certify quality, security, and reliability standards to facilitate use of commercial weather data into national security weather systems. 

The Air Force recently announced its intentions to replace its legacy Weather Research and Forecasting weather model.  Despite investing substantial resources in developing WRF, the Air Force selected a foreign government’s model, specifically one produced by Britain’s Meteorological Office.  This move was reportedly made without consulting the Air Force’s weather partners including the National Weather Service and the Navy.

While the British model is technically sound, the Air Force should have made this decision through a full and open competition which included U.S. weather modeling companies.  Selecting a weather model should be a collaborative process, not one characterized by unilateral decision making.  DOD should also favor a U.S.-based solution and fully consider commercial models.  If the British model is superior, then it should be able to win a fair competition.

Weather Forecasting Model Open Competition – Requires Secretary of Air Force to direct a full and open competition for the weather forecasting model used by the Air Force Weather Agency.  Requires SecAF certification that competition has been directed.  Fences AFWA funding until certification delivered. 

The FY 2016 Omnibus Appropriations Act included $3 million for NOAA to begin a commercial weather pilot program.  The Omnibus directed NOAA pilot to purchase, evaluate and calibrate commercial weather data – set to NOAA’s standards – to assess its potential viability in its weather modeling and forecasting.  NOAA’s FY17 budget request requested funding for the program.

In December 2015, the Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center released a Request for Information seeking information on commercial data and services to address DOD terrestrial and space weather requirements or augment DOD’s plan to meet them.  The RFI expressed particular interest in how commercial services could lower costs.  It is encouraging that DOD is interested in learning more about commercial weather data and services.  Congress can move the ball forward by replicating the NOAA program inside DOD.

Commercial Weather Data Pilot Program – Authorizes $10 million for commercial weather data pilot program.  Requires Air Force to enter into at least one pilot contract to assess the viability of integrating commercial weather data into DOD weather modeling and forecasting.

DOD should leverage commercial weather services, but also maximize existing on-orbit weather assets.  We should squeeze every ounce of capability from dedicated weather systems including DMSP’s Special Sensor Microwave Imager/Sounder.  Additionally, space systems with other primary missions may have sensors that could be used for weather applications.  The Space Based Infrared System which performs missile warning could be one such example.  SBIRS has valuable attributes including polar reach, revisit rates, and highly capable sensors.  While keeping its focus on the primary mission, DOD should explore if SBIRS could generate weather data in support of numerical weather models and validated requirements.

OPIR Weather Applications – Requires SECDEF to examine the potential of Space Based Infrared Systems to generate weather data in support of requirements. 

Weather Requirements Gap Mitigation – Requires SECDEF report on utilizing payloads on Defense Meteorological Satellite Program to mitigate validated DOD weather requirements including Ocean Vector Winds, Tropical Cyclone Intensity, Snow Depth, and Sea Ice.

In the FY16, Congress prevented DOD from relying on Russia or China for space-based weather data.  As mentioned earlier, DOD still plans to use civil or international partners to support the top two requirements.  The aforementioned EUMETSAT issue demonstrates the perils of relying on even our closest allies for weather support.  If DOD systems cannot meet a requirement, the burgeoning commercial sector may offer, in certain circumstances, the ability to augment weather data or, eventually, take responsibility for cloud characterization and theater weather imagery.  A clear statement that the DOD will not rely on international partners to deal with its top two requirements will spur even further interest in the domestic commercial market.

Prohibition of Reliance on Foreign Countries for Space-Based Weather Data – Prohibits DOD from planning to rely on foreign partners for cloud characterization, theater weather imagery, and space-based weather data.

Geomagnetic storms temporarily disrupt the Earth’s magnetic field through a solar wind shock wave.  Other kinds of space weather can also cause disruptions of electrical systems.  A major space weather event would likely degrade, if not destroy, unhardened on-orbit assets such as communications satellites and GPS.  Space weather could knock out portions of the electric grid temporarily and more severely if many transformers are destroyed.  Given the high-risks, DOD should invest in space weather systems.

Space Weather – Authorizes full funding of $40 million for Air Force space survivability and surveillance research, development, test and evaluation.

Geomagnetic Storm Warning – Requires USD/AT&L, in coordination with NOAA and NASA, to develop a geomagnetic storm warning capability.  Capability development shall include full consideration of commercial capabilities.

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Unity of effort between DOD, the Intelligence Community, and close allies is critical to respond to space threats.  The situational awareness provided by the Joint Space Operations Center (JSpOC) is important, but more work is needed to develop concepts of operations and tactics, techniques, and procedures.   In late 2015, DOD and the IC established the Joint Interagency Combined Space Operations Center (JICSpOC) as a robust test and experimentation environment to drive more DOD/IC integration in space operations.  The JICSpOC leverages not only DOD and IC personnel, but also space situational awareness data from the JSpOC, IC, and commercial providers.  Thus far, the JICSpOC has conducted experiments responding to notional space threats, driving a process of integration and CONOP/TTP development.  The Nation should encourage further experimentation, follow on activities, and more Allied participation in future experiments.

Joint Interagency Combined Space Operations Center – Authorizes full funding of  $30.2 million in RDT&E and O&M for the JICSpOC.

The space domain is evolving in a similar fashion to the air domain.  The air domain was originally occupied by military aircraft and a small number of hobbyists.  Military competition and technological developments caused the skies to be more congested, contested, and competitive.  It became necessary to develop basic rules for safety of flight.  Air traffic controllers must know the location of aircraft to preserve the skies for everybody.  Transponders on aircraft facilitate situational awareness.  The space domain is following a similar path.  Since JSpOC currently provides situational awareness for the world, it follows that DOD should identify the types of devices that commercial operators should integrate into their spacecraft to facilitate tracking.  While DOD cannot enforce good behavior, identifying desirable SSA capabilities will set the standard for responsible conduct in space.

Commercial SSA payloads – Requires SECDEF to identify the SSA payloads desirable for commercial satellite operators and other non-government operators (e.g., universities) to integrate into their systems prior to launch.

The Joint Space Operations Center (JSpOC) integrated commercial satellite operators to collaborate on space situational awareness.  This has improved the localization and attribution of electromagnetic interference as well as conjunction analysis and reporting.

Commercial Integration Cell – Requires SECDEF to brief the congressional defense committees on making the Commercial Integration Cell at the JSpOC permanent.

The U.S. must get off the RD-180 engine as quickly as possible for national security launch missions.  The Air Force and industry believe at least two launch service providers can be tested and certified by the end of 2022 to meet national security launch requirements for all necessary orbits.  We should ensure this deadline does not move by incentivizing launch service providers to use domestic engines to win national security contracts after 2022.

Domestic Engines – Instructs DOD to consider bids from launch providers utilizing domestically-built engines as costing 25 percent less than the list cost of the bid for the purposes of the competitive bid process.  Institutes this provision beginning on January 1, 2023.

Electronics miniaturization is shrinking the size of systems with greater capability.  This principle applies as much to satellites and payloads as to cell phones.  In turn, smaller launch vehicles are required to launch smaller, lighter systems, especially into low earth orbit.  Smaller rockets have shorter production timelines at lower costs.  An army of inexpensive small launch vehicle options would give DOD the capability to rapidly populate and augment constellations and, if necessary, reconstitute destroyed or degraded space assets.  It would also enable small payloads to launch into their own orbits instead of catching a ride as secondary payloads.

DOD can help develop more rapid and cheaper launch options by supporting the small launch vehicle industrial base.  NASA recently awarded three contracts for its Venture Class Launch Services program to launch earth science missions.  DOD should replicate VCLS.

Venture Class Launch Services Program – Requires DOD to establish a program to competitively award launch services contracts for venture class launch vehicles.  Authorizes $27 million in funding to award not less than four contracts for venture class launch services. 

In 2007, DOD established the Operationally Responsive Space office at Kirtland, AFB.  ORS focuses on designing and developing low-cost, rapid-reaction payloads, buses, space lift and launch-control methods to meet joint military operational requirements for on-demand space support and regeneration.  ORS utilizes smaller satellites and smaller launch vehicles.

Acquisition agility is critical to respond to emerging space threats and/or capability gaps.  The traditional acquisition process is too slow and ORS can focus on a problem and move faster.  However, as the commercial space market matures, ORS should thoroughly review the possibilities for modifying commercial off the shelf capabilities rather than starting new programs.

Operationally Responsive Space – Requires ORS to prioritize market research and identification of commercial capabilities and services.  Prior to new development programs, requires ORS to certify no commercial capability or service (with or without minor modifications) can meet the program requirements.    

The Air Force’s plan for getting off the RD-180 culminates in qualifying two or more domestic, commercially viable launch providers using domestic engines no later than 2023.  Additionally, the Air Force plans to procure launches from 2020-2024 beginning in 2018.  However, timelines could be changed by technical issues or the legislative process.  The Nation needs assured to access to space.  While reliance on Russia is acceptable for now, prudence dictates that we plan for a backup capability in case technical or political challenges upend the planned timeline.  Launch services provided by U.S. allies could serve as this backup.

Evaluation of Allied Launch Services Backup – Authorizes $4 million to conduct studies on Allied launch service providers to serve as backup to launch national security missions.  

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The Air Force Satellite Control Network provides continuous telemetry, tracking, and command operations for a variety of DOD and non-DOD satellite constellations through control centers, tracking stations, and test facilities throughout the world.  While maintenance and logistics support is provided by contractors, the day to day operations is still done by DOD personnel with a fairly large footprint, especially when compared to commercial space operations centers.  The entire day to day routine operational mission should be contracted out with the Air Force performing a management function, thus freeing up airmen to focus on deterring, fighting and winning wars in space.

Air Force Satellite Control Network – Requires SecAF to commercialize (i.e., fully outsource) daily AFSCN operations by January 2018 (excluding mission planning and warfighting operations).

In times past, the government performed the overhead imagery mission.  More recently, the National Reconnaissance Office began leveraging commercial imagery provided by companies such as Digital Globe.  Now, DG is an integral partner.  The National Geospatial Intelligence Agency also leverages commercial remote sensing.  In October 2015, NGA released a Commercial GEOINT Strategy which outlines plans to use more commercial capabilities and services.

Expresses a sense of Congress that the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency and National Reconnaissance Office should continue efforts to implement innovative technology upgrades, flexible licensing and sharing policies, analytic capability, cross-training, content-in-the-open, and use of international standards.  NGA should expand use of open-source methods and data. 

Commercial GEOINT Strategy – Requires NGA briefing on options, including new acquisition authorities, necessary to accelerate Commercial GEOINT Strategy. 

Defines congressional defense committees as those listed in 10 USC 101.

View the ASRA Section-by-Section Document