During a quick 10-minute markup, subcommittee chairman Rep. Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.) stated that more utilisation of private space technologies will assist the military.
This is Cooper’s final stint as chair of the subcommittee as he is retiring from Congress.
The bill also calls on the Space Force to run the National Security Space Launch (NSSL) program more efficiently by standardizing satellite and launch vehicle interfaces so payloads can be deployed faster.
The strategic forces markup – to be considered by the full House Armed Services Committee on June 22 — specifically suggests the military should increase use of commercial remote sensing satellite data such as radio-frequency and synthetic aperture radar.
The strategic forces panel, which is responsible for military space, missile defense, and nuclear weapons strategy and projects, included wording in its markup calling for more use of private space technology and data from commercial satellites.
“We must continue to buy the best off-the-shelf technology and partner with the best firms to invent new technology,” said Cooper. “We must also demand that the U.S. have capabilities that vastly exceed anything in the private sector.”
Provisions on commercial remote sensing:
• The bill says commercial satellite radio frequency (RF) remote sensing capabilities “have the potential to support a variety of Department of Defense missions, from warfighting to understanding the impacts of climate change.”
• The committee asks for a DoD briefing on how U.S. commercial RF satellite capabilities are being leveraged in combatant command exercises, experimentation, and wargaming, and how these commercial capabilities should be integrated into information systems and workflows. • The committee encourages the National Reconnaissance Office to expand the current synthetic aperture radar (SAR) commercial acquisition program beyond its pilot program status.
• The committee recommends the NRO accelerate adoption and integration of U.S. commercial SAR systems. It also asks for a report on NRO plans to acquire commercial SAR capabilities. Provisions on national security launch:
• The committee says it is concerned about current efforts to “drive down cost, reduce risk and ensure launch reliability and performance.” • The cost of launch is an issue for the Space Development Agency, which plans to increase the total number of projected launches in the coming years as it deploys a large constellation in low Earth orbit.
• DoD is directed to brief the committee “on the benefits, including cost and schedule, of using one consistent launch integration solution across all types space and launch vehicles, and all plans to utilize a common launch integrator for current and future programs.” • The committee supports the use of a contractor to serve as a common launch integrator to simplify the integration of satellites with launch vehicles. “This approach could be an effective method to lower costs, reduce launch readiness timelines, and increase competition for launch providers.”