WASHINGTON — The U.S. Space Force will set up a single office to assess and secure commercial services, ranging from traditional satellite communications to satellite imagery, the service’s No. 2 official said June 2.
The change will occur with the establishment of Space Systems Command, or SSC, a new field command designed to replace the Space and Missile Systems Center as the Space Force’s main organization for acquiring and fielding space systems, Vice Chief of Space Operations Gen. David Thompson said during the MilSat Symposium. When that change takes place, the office that oversees commercial satellite communications will expand to cover most space-related commercial services for the service, including intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance.
Historically, the military’s use of commercial space services has largely been limited to satellite communications, with providers filling a significant share of the DoD’s day-to-day needs. That’s changed in recent years, said Thompson, as the Space Force has increasingly looked to commercial services for data relay and space situational awareness data. And as Thompson acknowledged, the intelligence community has been a long-time user of commercial satellite imagery, with the National Reconnaissance Office working to expand its relationship with commercial providers in recent years.
Chief of Space Operations Gen. Jay Raymond has repeatedly said that he wants to further integrate with industry, stating that there is no mission area where commercial services can’t contribute.
Under the SSC setup, the Commercial Satellite Communications Office — the organization in charge of securing commercial satellite services — will transition into a “commercial services office” with much broader responsibilities, explained Thomas. The general had noted that SMC was considering such a change during the C4ISRNET Conference in April. The new office will acquire a vast array of services from industry, including commercial satellite imagery, space situational awareness data and more. The office will be in charge of determining the military efficacy of acquiring new commercial capabilities as well as their cost effectiveness.
SSC is expected to get started later this summer, once Congress has approved a commander to oversee the new organization.
Nathan Strout was the staff editor at C4ISRNET, where he covered the intelligence community.