A Close Look at the Space Renaissance Act’s National Security Provisions

Rep. Jim Bridenstine
Rep. Jim Bridenstine

Rep. Jim Bridenstine’s (R-OK) American Space Renaissance Act calls for major changes in the way national security space operations are carried out.

The measure calls on the president to develop a doctrine to deal with attacks on U.S. government and commercial satellites.

It also broadly focuses on integrating commercial assets to supplement defense systems, including hosting DOD payloads on private satellites, using commercial communications systems, and purchasing commercial space data for weather forecasting.

A summary of the provisions follows. A number of the changes have been incorporated into the National Defense Authorization Act, which was recently approved by the House Armed Services Committee. Adopted provisions are marked in blue.

Sec. 101: Space Doctrine, Organization, Acquisition & Architecture Development

U.S. Response to Hostile Acts — Requires the President to develop doctrine for the armed forces and intelligence community governing the U.S. response to deliberately hostile acts against U.S. government, commercial, and allied/partner space assets.

“I am not confident that the United States has a well-developed doctrine for deterring and fighting a space war,” Bridenstine writes on the ASRA website. “Ambiguity over what the United State values in space encourages our adversaries to “test the limits” and engage in more provocative behavior. Ambiguity over command-and-control makes responses more fragmented, ad-hoc, and less effective.”

PDSA Responsibilities — Codifies into law the roles and responsibilities of the Principal Defense Space Advisor (PDSA) in accordance with a DOD memo that outlines the advisor’s responsibilities

The position was established to bring more focus to the DOD’s space activities to better meet growing threats. According to the memo, the PDSA’s job is to

“oversee all departmental space matters, including policies, strategies, plans, programming, and architecture assessments across the DOD Space Enterprise.  In addition, the PDSA will advance NSS strategies through established processes for planning, programming, budgeting, and execution, space program acquisition, and space policy development. Furthermore, the PDSA will fulfill the requirement for a Principal DOD Space Control Advisor as defined in the FY16 National Defense Authorization Act.”

Space Situational Awareness — Requires the Secretary of Defense to develop a strategy to enhance automation and increase interoperability between systems which share space and cyberspace situational awareness information across the DOD.

Integrated Program Certification — Requires annual Secretary of Defense “integrated program” certification for major satellite acquisition programs to ensure major segments (space segment, ground segment, and terminals) are delivered and acquired in a synchronized manner.

Hosted Payloads – Requires Secretary of Defense to leverage hosted payloads to the extent practical. After 2026, Secretary of Defense shall give preference to hosted payloads launched on U.S. launch vehicles.

Funded at $30 million

Protection Capability Enhancements for Commercial Space – Requires Secretary of Defense assessment of desirable protection capabilities which commercial operators could integrate in systems prior to launch.

High Volume Satellite Manufacturing – Expresses a sense of Congress that DOD should examine opportunities offered by high-volume satellite manufacturing as the capability emerges, particularly in terms of cost reduction and resiliency enhancement.

Sec. 102: Satellite Communications

Enterprise Level Situational Awareness Networks — Expresses a sense of Congress that current and future satellite communications architectures of the Department of Defense should be resilient, integrated, and include enterprise-level situational awareness networks.

Wideband Satcom AoA — Modifies Wideband Satellite Communications (SATCOM) Analysis of Alternatives (AoA) to fully consider commercial technologies and service models; requires apples-to-apples military and commercial communications satellites cost comparisons.

Bridenstine is skeptical about a 2014 DOD strategy report that found it was four times cheaper for the government to purchase, own and operate wideband satellites than to lease the capacity on commercial satellites that were already in orbit. He wants to AoA to examine the issue again.

Adopted in Section 16 of Strategic Forces mark with minor modifications.

Multiband Terminals – Directs future SATCOM terminal acquisition programs to require multiband capability. Requires Secretary of Defense to approve any exception to this policy.

Protected Tactical Service — Authorizes full funding of $150.7 million for PTS. The services focusing on research, development, testing and evaluation of technologies to make satellite communications more robust and to protect them from being disrupted or taken out by enemy actions.

PTS is fully funded at requested level.

SATCOM Pathfinder Program — Authorizes full funding at $30 million for Space and Missile Systems Center SATCOM Pathfinder Program. This program is designed to demonstrate that the DOD can use other acquisition methods to purchase commercial satellite communications.

SMC Pathfinder fully funded at requested level.

Satellite Communications Pilot Program – Authorizes $50 million for each of fiscal years 2017 through 2021 to carry out the pilot program for the acquisition of commercial satellite communication services and enterprise level ground integration efforts.

Funded at $30 million. Requirement for Air Force to begin implementation by fiscal year 2018.

Department of Homeland Security Narrowband Communications – Directs DHS to report on leveraging Multiple User Objective System SATCOM to complement existing communications systems.  Requires assessment of critical connectivity requirements, shortfalls, and ways to cover gapped requirements.

Preservation of Electromagnetic Spectrum Access – Requires the Federal Communications Commission to ensure that commercial satellites operating in geostationary and non-geostationary orbit have primary access to the electromagnetic spectrum in the 27.5-28.35 gigahertz band without the need to participate in an auction or to purchase in the secondary market.

Sec. 103: Positioning, Navigation & Timing

Maximizing Global Positioning System Use — Expresses a sense of Congress on the importance of positioning, navigation, and timing (PNT) for national security and economic prosperity.  Requires Secretary of Defense to provide a strategy to ensure DOD PNT leverages the best available signals from alternative PNT systems.

Sec. 104: Weather

Augmenting Government Weather Forecasting — Expresses a sense of Congress that space-based weather data and services can help mitigate gaps in critical weather requirements, increase architecture resilience, and augment legacy government weather systems.

National Executive Committee on Weather – Requires the President to establish a National Executive Committee on Weather to coordinate weather-related matters across the departments and agencies of the Federal Government.  This will be modelled after the National Space-Based PNT Executive Committee.

Commercial Weather Data Quality, Security, and Reliability Standards – Requires Secretary of Defense to develop and certify quality, security, and reliability standards to facilitate use of commercial weather data into national security weather systems.

Weather Forecasting Model Open Competition – Requires Secretary of Air Force to direct a full and open competition for the weather forecasting model used by the Air Force Weather Agency.  Requires SecAF certification that competition has been directed.  Fences AFWA funding until certification delivered.

Authorizes $3 million to purchase and evaluate commercial weather data

Commercial Weather Data Pilot Program – Authorizes $10 million for commercial weather data pilot program.  Requires Air Force to enter into at least one pilot contract to assess the viability of integrating commercial weather data into DOD weather modeling and forecasting.

OPIR Weather Applications – Requires Secretary of Defense to examine the potential of Space Based Infrared Systems to generate weather data in support of requirements.

Weather Requirements Gap Mitigation – Requires Secretary of Defense report on utilizing payloads on Defense Meteorological Satellite Program to mitigate validated DOD weather requirements including Ocean Vector Winds, Tropical Cyclone Intensity, Snow Depth, and Sea Ice.

Prohibition of Reliance on Foreign Countries for Space-Based Weather Data – Prohibits DOD from planning to rely on foreign partners for cloud characterization, theater weather imagery, and space-based weather data.

Space Weather – Authorizes full funding of $40 million for Air Force space survivability and surveillance research, development, test and evaluation.

Geomagnetic Storm Warning – Requires USD/AT&L, in coordination with NOAA and NASA, to develop a geomagnetic storm warning capability.  Capability development shall include full consideration of commercial capabilities.

Sec. 105: Space Situational Awareness (SSA)

Joint Interagency Combined Space Operations Center — Authorizes full funding for Joint Interagency Combined Space Operations Center  at $30 million. Established in late 2015, this center is focused on better integrating space situational awareness efforts between the DOD, intelligence community and close allies.

JICSpOC fully funded at requested level.

Commercial SSA payloads – Requires Secretary of Defense to identify the SSA payloads desirable for commercial satellite operators and other non-government operators (e.g., universities) to integrate into their systems prior to launch.

Commercial Integration Cell – Requires Secretary of Defense to brief the congressional defense committees on making the Commercial Integration Cell at the JSpOC permanent.

Section 106: Launch

Domestic Engines – Instructs DOD to consider bids from launch providers utilizing domestically-built engines as costing 25 percent less than the list cost of the bid for the purposes of the competitive bid process.  Institutes this provision beginning on January 1, 2023.

Venture Class Launch Services – Establishes a Venture Class Launch Services program to competitively award contracts for small launch services. Program mirrors NASA’s VCLS program. Authorizes $27 million.

Adopted partially — $20m added in Office of Operationally Responsive Space.

Operationally Responsive Space – Requires Office of Operationally Responseive Space (ORS) to prioritize market research and identification of commercial capabilities and services. Prior to new development programs, requires ORS to certify no commercial capability or service (with or without minor modifications) can meet the program requirements.

Evaluation of Allied Launch Services Backup – Authorizes $4 million to conduct studies on Allied launch service providers to serve as backup to launch national security missions.

Section 107: Command and Control

AFSCN Commercialization — Requires Air Force to fully commercialize day-to-day operations of Air Force Satellite Control Network by 2018. Commercializing the network would free up airmen to focus on deterring, fighting and winning wars in space.

Adopted partially in Strategic Forces report language. Requires briefing on costs/benefits of leveraging commercial facilities and operations.

Section 108: Remote Sensing

NGIA & NRO Improvements — Expresses a sense of Congress that the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency and National Reconnaissance Office should continue efforts to implement innovative technology upgrades, flexible licensing and sharing policies, analytic capability, cross-training, content-in-the-open, and use of international standards.  NGA should expand use of open-source methods and data.

Commercial GEOINT Strategy – Requires NGA briefing on options, including new acquisition authorities, necessary to accelerate Commercial GEOINT Strategy.

In October 2015, NGA released a Commercial GEOINT Strategy which outlines plans to use more commercial capabilities and services.

Section 109: Congressional Defense Committees Defined

Defines congressional defense committees as those listed in 10 USC 101.

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American Space Renaissance Act