As the Space Force continues to mature into its fully-fledged form, the service is considering new options for how it will organize offices under its responsibility.
The service, which is less than 18 months old, will soon have three component offices under its purview: Space Operations Command (SpOC), Space Systems Command (SSC) and Space Training and Readiness Command (STARCOM).
Space Systems Command was set up earlier this month, and works on acquisition, development and research of space systems.
However, many of the offices that fulfill those duties legally report to the chief of space operations and not to SSC. Those offices include the Space Development Agency (SDA) and the Space Rapid Capabilities Office (Space RCO).
The Space Force says it would like to change that and it needs Congress’ help.
“In the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act, Congress specified that the Space Rapid Capabilities Office reports the chief space operations, and in 2021 Congress specified that when Space Development Agency transitions into the Space Force that it will report to the chief of space operations,” Vice Chief of Space Operations Gen. David Thompson said Wednesday at the C4ISRNet Conference. “We have to comply with the law.”
Thompson said the Space Force is looking for ways to evolve and it thinks transitioning those offices over to SSC will be the best move for the future.
“We’d like to continue to work with Congress on options to evolve SSC in the future to what we believe will continue to be a responsible organization to meet the needs,” he said.
The SDA will be moving into the Space Force in 2022, and it’s already working on its mission to put tranches of cheap satellites into close-Earth orbit to enhance weapons systems and extend surveillance.
SDA is currently in the process of buying satellites for Tranche 0, which will be in orbit by 2022. About 150 satellites will belong to Tranche One and SDA plans to put out requests for proposal this August; SDA wants the satellites in space by 2024.
The agency noted that it was able to procure the 30 satellites for Tranche 0 at an average price of $14.1 million. The companies working on those products include L3Harris, SpaceX, Lockheed Martin and York Space Systems.
SDA Director Derek Tournear said his organization is working with the Space Force to ensure a unity of effort so that all those satellites will be compatible with future systems.
In the meantime, SSC will have plenty to do.
“Space Systems Command’s organizational structure was purpose-built to anticipate and be responsive to the challenges presented by a contested space domain,” said Gen. Jay Raymond, chief of space operations earlier this month. “We took the Space and Missile Center 2.0 transformation of 2019 to the next level, aligning missions and organizations, and pushing authorities down from the three-star level to lower echelons in order to reduce cost and go fast. This will allow us to move at speed in delivering the resilient space capabilities necessary to stay ahead of a growing threat.”
It will be in charge of the Space and Missile Systems Center, the Commercial Satellite Communications Office and two space wings. There are also discussions underway to bring in the Army and Navy’s space components to SSC as well.
With the Commercial Satellite Communications Office, Thompson said the SSC is looking to expand responsibilities beyond commercial satellites and use private companies for remote sensing, and intelligence capabilities.
SSC will also inherit the Space Enterprise Consortium, a group of companies working together with government on space contracts and ideas.
“The consortium allows us a connection to innovate with small business all the way up to the major defense contractors on very specific technology and very specific capabilities of interest,” Thompson said. “We’re talking now about billions of dollars versus hundreds of millions of dollars and hundreds of companies.”
Thompson said the Space Force is working on a handful of legislative changes for Congress and hopes to have the SSC request and others in for this legislative cycle.