WASHINGTON — The U.S. Space Force will reorganize its acquisitions organization this summer under the new Space Systems Command, the still nascent service announced Thursday.
Under the restructuring to speed up new technology delivery, Space Systems Command (SSC) will replace the Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC), elevating the latter’s responsibilities to a Space Force Field Command. The new organization, headquartered at Los Angeles Air Force Base, will be charged with developing, acquiring, fielding and sustaining space capabilities. Like SMC, the command will launch the Space Force’s new satellites, test them on orbit and sustain the constellations. Some additional Air Force units will transfer into the Space Force, but the reorganization does not include transfers from the other services, as had been suggested earlier.
The Space Force said SSC continues the Air Force’s 2019 acquisition reforms known as SMC 2.0, which emphasized an enterprise approach to the purchase of space capabilities.
“Space Systems Command’s organizational structure was purpose-built to anticipate and be responsive to the challenges presented by a contested space domain,” said Chief of Space Operations Gen. Jay Raymond in a statement. “We took the SMC 2.0 transformation of 2019 to the next level, aligning missions and organizations, and pushing authorities down from the three-star level to lower echelons in order to reduce cost and go fast. This will allow us to move at speed in delivering the resilient space capabilities necessary to stay ahead of a growing threat.”
“With the re-designation of SMC as SSC, we will further build upon the success seen with SMC 2.0, while synchronizing the science and technology research, capability development, system production, launch operations, and system sustainment efforts to more effectively deliver cutting-edge space systems needed to ensure the future of our national security and prosperity,” added SMC Commander Lt. Gen. John Thompson.
SSC is the second of three new field commands to be established under the Space Force. The first — Space Operations Command (SpOC) — was created in October and is responsible for operating the nation’s military satellites. The service plans to set up the Space Training and Readiness Command (STARCOM) later this year. STARCOM will be in charge of educating and training Space Force guardians.
The SSC commander will be a three-star general nominated by the president and confirmed by the Senate.
The new command is slightly different than the organization Space Force leaders had previewed in 2020. Most notably, SSC will not include the Space Rapid Capabilities Office or the Space Development Agency, the latter of which is set to transfer into the Space Force in 2022. While SSC will provide select administrative and integration support to both, the two units will report directly to the chief of space operations. Both will receive their acquisition authorities from the service acquisition executive.
In addition to all SMC units moving to SSC, several Air Force units will be redesignated to the Space Force. Most notably, the Strategic Warning and Surveillance Systems Division — the program office for ground-based radars, missile warning, space domain awareness, missile defense and shared early-warning capabilities — will transfer from the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center to SSC.
Space-related units within the Air Force Research Laboratory will remain affiliated with the AFRL commander, although they will be under the administrative control of SSC.
SSC also includes a significant shakeup of the service’s launch enterprise. The SSC deputy commander — a two-star USSF officer — will be the Assured Access to Space leader with oversight of the entire launch enterprise. That enterprise will be its own office under SSC. Additionally, the 30th Space Wing at Vandenberg AFB, California, and the 45th Space Wing at Patrick Space Force Base, Florida, will be redesignated as Space Launch Delta 30 and Space Launch Delta 45, respectively.
Nathan Strout was the staff editor at C4ISRNET, where he covered the intelligence community.