House Armed Services Panel Calls On DoD To Buy Commercial Space Technology And Data

House Armed Services Panel Calls On DoD To Buy Commercial Space Technology And Data

House Armed Services Panel Calls On DoD To Buy Commercial Space Technology And Data

Commission proposal calls for increased DoD use of commercial satellite data for remote sensing, such as radio frequency and synthetic aperture radar

WASHINGTON — The Strategic Forces Subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee passed its proposals on June 8 for the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2023.

The Strategic Forces Panel — which covers military space, missile defense, and nuclear weapons policies and programs — included language in its format that advocated greater use of commercial space technology and data from commercial satellites.

During a short 10-minute markup session, Subcommittee Chairman Rep. Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.) that the military would benefit from greater use of commercial space technologies.

“We must continue to buy the best off-the-shelf technology and partner with the best companies to invent new technology,” said Cooper. “We must also demand that the US has capabilities that vastly exceed anything in the private sector.”

This is Cooper’s last stint as chairman of the subcommittee as he is withdraw from Congress

The Strategic Forces layout — to be considered by the full House Armed Services Committee on June 22 — specifically suggests the military should make greater use of commercial remote sensing satellite data, such as radio frequency and synthetic aperture radar.

The bill also calls on the Space Force to run the National Security Space Launch Program (NSSL) more efficiently by standardizing the interfaces of satellites and launchers so that payloads can be deployed more quickly.

Commercial Remote Sensing Provisions:

• The bill says commercial satellite radio frequency (RF) remote sensing capabilities “have the potential to support a variety of Defense Department missions, from warfare to understanding the impacts of climate change.”

• Committee requests a DoD briefing on how US commercial RF satellite capabilities are used in combatant command exercises, experiments and wargaming, and how to integrate these commercial capabilities into information systems and workflows.

• The committee encourages the National Reconnaissance Office to extend the current commercial synthetic aperture radar (SAR) acquisition program beyond pilot program status.

• The committee recommends that the NRO accelerate the adoption and integration of commercial SAR systems in the US. It also asks for a report on the NRO’s plans to acquire commercial SAR capabilities.

National Security Launch Provisions:

• The committee said it is concerned about current efforts to “cut costs, mitigate risk and ensure launch reliability and performance.”

• Launch costs are an issue for the Space Development Agency, which plans to increase the total number of launches planned in the coming years as it places a large constellation in low Earth orbit.

• The Committee supports the use of a contractor to serve as a joint launch integrator to simplify the integration of satellites with launchers. “This approach can be an effective method to reduce costs, shorten launch readiness timelines and increase competition for launch providers.”

• DoD is instructed to inform the committee “of the benefits, including cost and schedule, of using a single consistent launch integration solution for all types of space and launch vehicles, and any plans to use a common launch integrator for current and future programs.”