The Senate wants more information before taking action on a host of U.S. Space Force-related actions, and an early version of the chamber’s annual defense legislation calls for a number of relevant reports according to a summary released June 11.
For instance, before deciding which space-related missions are moved into the Space Force, the legislation would require a report from the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the service chiefs. While the Space Force currently includes the Space and Missile Systems Center—which is in charge of most space-related acquisition—the other services have their own space efforts.
The legislation would also require the Department of the Air Force to submit an analysis to Congress before any bases are transferred into the Space Force. Similarly, the Air Force would need to provide a report on the selection process and criteria used to determine a permanent Space Command headquarters. The Air Force recently reopened the competition for municipalities seeking to become the new home of Space Command with three main criteria based on population, proximity to an existing military base and a livability score of at least 50 based on AARP’s Public Policy Institute.
Proposals are due June 30, and a final decision is expected in early 2021.
Additionally, the legislation would not establish a Space National Guard—something National Guard leadership has called for—until a study on the matter is completed. Air Force Secretary Barbara Barrett has in fact stated that the Space Force is not rushing to establish a National Guard component. In the interim, the legislation would establish a Space Force reserve component, although there were no details on what that would look like.
The legislation will take some actions on the Space Force without requiring new studies.
While the summary provides scant details, it states that the legislation would make “technical and conforming amendments needed to continue implementation of the Space Force,” including the authorization of voluntary transfers of personnel into the new service. It does not make any reference to the Air Force’s recent proposal to overhaul space-related acquisitions, which was required under legislation passed in December.
The summary further suggests that the legislation will promote long term growth for the national security space sector by encouraging the establishment of a space training and readiness command, continuing development of a space technology base, and directing further collaboration with research institutions to build infrastructure and a workforce base.
Finally, the legislation will apparently increase funding for space domain awareness, launch development, and space-based surveillance capability, though no numbers are provided.