Official: 2013 Budget Targets Space Capability Resilience

WASHINGTON, March 9, 2012 — The $9.6 bil­lion for space pro­grams with­in Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s fis­cal year 2013 bud­get request will boost resilience for U.S. space capa­bil­i­ties but cut some mod­ern­iza­tion and oth­er pro­grams, Air Force Gen. William L. Shel­ton, com­man­der of the Air Force Space Com­mand, told a House pan­el yes­ter­day.

Shel­ton tes­ti­fied on nation­al secu­ri­ty space activ­i­ties before the House Armed Ser­vices Committee’s strate­gic forces sub­com­mit­tee, along with Ambas­sador Gre­go­ry L. Schulte, deputy assis­tant sec­re­tary of defense for space pol­i­cy, Gil I. Klinger, deputy assis­tant sec­re­tary of defense for space and intel­li­gence, and oth­er experts. 

The president’s bud­get request, Shel­ton said, “invests in pro­grams that enhance the resilien­cy and effec­tive­ness of our space capa­bil­i­ties, name­ly mis­sile warn­ing, posi­tion­ing, nav­i­ga­tion and tim­ing, satel­lite com­mu­ni­ca­tions, space sit­u­a­tion­al aware­ness and space launch.” 

A 22 per­cent drop in the 2013 request from 2012 rep­re­sents main­ly “fact-of-life pro­gram­mat­ic changes,” the gen­er­al said, along with “some very dif­fi­cult bud­get deci­sions lead­ing to cuts to some mod­ern­iza­tion pro­grams, and restruc­tur­ing our approach” to the Oper­a­tional­ly Respon­sive Space Office, or ORS, and the Space Test Program. 

Con­gress estab­lished the ORS in 2007 to short­en the space acqui­si­tion cycle while respond­ing to urgent warfight­er needs. The Space Test Pro­gram has been pro­vid­ing access to space for the DOD space research and devel­op­ment com­mu­ni­ty since 1965. 

The com­mand, Shel­ton said, also seeks to speed the acqui­si­tion process for the Advanced Extreme­ly High-Fre­quen­cy Pro­gram, a joint ser­vice satel­lite com­mu­ni­ca­tions sys­tem for high-pri­or­i­ty mil­i­tary ground, sea and air assets, and the Space-Based Infrared Sys­tem, a key part of North America’s mis­sile ear­ly warn­ing and defense system. 

The gen­er­al said the Air Force Space Com­mand is work­ing close­ly with NASA and the Nation­al Recon­nais­sance Office to “bring sta­bil­i­ty and pre­dictabil­i­ty to our launch programs.” 

Schulte told the pan­el that three ele­ments are crit­i­cal to the U.S. strat­e­gy in space: resilience, pro­mot­ing respon­si­ble behav­ior in space, and ener­giz­ing the space indus­tri­al base. 

Exam­ples of resilien­cy, he said, include host­ed pay­loads, com­mer­cial aug­men­ta­tion, inter­na­tion­al coop­er­a­tion and back­up capa­bil­i­ties in oth­er domains. 

In 2008, the Euro­pean Union pub­lished a draft Code of Con­duct for Out­er Space Activ­i­ties and a revised draft in 2010. 

“The EU’s draft is a promis­ing basis for an inter­na­tion­al code,” Schulte said. 

“It focus­es on reduc­ing the risk of cre­at­ing debris and increas­ing trans­paren­cy of space oper­a­tions. It is not legal­ly bind­ing and rec­og­nizes the inher­ent right of self-defense. It address­es behav­ior rather than unver­i­fi­able capa­bil­i­ties and bet­ter serves our inter­ests than the legal­ly bind­ing ban on space weapons pro­posed by oth­ers,” he added. 

“As we par­tic­i­pate in the devel­op­ment of an inter­na­tion­al code,” Schulte told the pan­el, “the depart­ment is com­mit­ted to ensur­ing that it advances our nation­al security.” 

The ambas­sador said the Unit­ed States could ener­gize the space indus­tri­al base by allow­ing indus­try to com­pete inter­na­tion­al­ly for the sale of satel­lites and tech­nolo­gies that are already wide­ly available. 

Today, some com­mer­cial satel­lite com­po­nents reside on the Muni­tions List, a reg­istry of items sub­ject to the Inter­na­tion­al Traf­fic in Arms Reg­u­la­tions because they are con­sid­ered dual-use exports — those that can be used for peace­ful and mil­i­tary ends. The State Depart­ment strict­ly reg­u­lates and licens­es such exports. 

Last year, Schulte said, the depart­ments of Defense and State con­clud­ed that com­mer­cial com­mu­ni­ca­tions satel­lites and relat­ed com­po­nents, with a few excep­tions, can be moved from the U.S. Muni­tions List to the Com­merce Con­trol List with­out pos­ing an unac­cept­able secu­ri­ty risk. 

The forth­com­ing final report, he added, will iden­ti­fy more items that can be safe­ly moved. 

“This approach — high­er fences around few­er items — will require new leg­is­la­tion,” he told the panel. 

“Your sup­port can help ener­gize our indus­tri­al base and there­by enhance our nation­al secu­ri­ty,” Schulte added. “Giv­ing our indus­tri­al base new com­mer­cial oppor­tu­ni­ties is par­tic­u­lar­ly impor­tant at a time of defense spend­ing constraints.” 

Deputy Assis­tant Sec­re­tary Klinger told the pan­el that DOD is recap­i­tal­iz­ing vir­tu­al­ly all its space lines of busi­ness, “and doing so at pre­cise­ly a time of sharply con­strained resources and as the nation remains at war.” 

The depart­ment is doing the following: 

— Exe­cut­ing over­sight ear­li­er in the acqui­si­tion process so pro­gram man­agers can achieve author­i­ty to pro­ceed ear­ly and then focus their ener­gies on pro­gram execution. 

— Using fixed-price con­tracts, more inno­v­a­tive con­tract­ing and evo­lu­tion­ary upgrades where those make sense. 

— Pur­su­ing a block buy for the Advanced Extreme­ly High-Fre­quen­cy 5 and 6 satel­lite pro­grams and devel­op­ing a plan to use the sav­ings to improve the capa­bil­i­ty of mil­i­tary satel­lite com­mu­ni­ca­tions overall. 

“This is extreme­ly impor­tant as we plan ahead to main­tain the resources to pro­tect our seed corn of promis­ing tech­nolo­gies,” Klinger said. “We intend to use com­pe­ti­tion where and when it makes sense.” 

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs) 

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