WASHINGTON — The Space Force is requesting $15.4 billion in fiscal 2021 to continue building up the fledgling service and keep its weapons priorities on track.
The request, which is part of the Department of the Air Force’s budget, includes $2.5 billion for operations and maintenance, $10.3 billion for research and development, and $2.4 billion for procurement.
Although military personnel funding for the Space Force is kept within the Air Force’s budget in FY21 , budget materials stated that about 6,400 military personnel and 3,500 civilians are set to make up the service that year.
“This funding is a critical first step to combat emerging space threats and requirements and transitioning military space operations from combat support to warfighting,” said budget materials that were released Feb. 10.
In the research and development portion of the budget, funding for new missile warning satellites, known as the Next Generation Overhead Persistent Infrared constellation, increased from $1.5 billion in FY20 to $2.3 billion in FY21 — one of the biggest spending hikes in both the Space Force and the Air Force budget requests. The budget materials also noted “significant development in classified programs.”
Meanwhile, other major space R&D programs modestly increased. The Operations Control System program, which is developing the ground control systems linked to new GPS satellites, went from $445 million to $482 million. Development funding for next-generation rockets shot up from $432 million to $561 million, and spending for military GPS user equipment increased from $321 million to $391 million.
As part of procurement efforts, the Space Force wants to spend $1 billion on three national security launches, including those for the final two Space Based Infrared System satellites. It also requested $628 million for two next-generation GPS III satellites.
A $77 million expenditure in the overseas contingency operations account would fund counterspace operations, the additional development of SBIRS satellites and satellite communications, according to budget materials.
Space Force O&M funding would help fund ongoing efforts to stand up and operate from its headquarters, as well as sustain space assets.
Although military construction spending for the Space Force is kept inside the Air Force’s budget, documents show the Air Force’s $1.4 billion request would pay for the completion of a consolidated space operations facility and the mission beddown of a space control facility.
Valerie Insinna is Defense News' air warfare reporter. She previously worked the Navy/congressional beats for Defense Daily, which followed almost three years as a staff writer for National Defense Magazine. Prior to that, she worked as an editorial assistant for the Tokyo Shimbun’s Washington bureau.