The first three architecture design studies are for missile warning, space data transport and overhead surveillance
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Space Force will turn more attention in the coming year to the design of the military’s future space architecture, chief of space operations Gen. John “Jay” Raymond said Jan. 18.
As it begins its third year in existence, the Space Force expects 2022 to be “even more consequential” than the past two years, Raymond said at an event hosted by the Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies.
“We’ll be focused on our force design work,” he said. “We will begin to pivot significantly to a resilient architecture this next year.”
The impulse behind the architecture design is to make national security satellite constellations less vulnerable to adversaries’ anti-satellite weapons.
“We have got to shift our space architecture, if you will, from a handful of exquisite capabilities that are very hard to defend to a more robust, more resilient architecture,” said Raymond. To deter enemies from taking aim at U.S. satellites, “we have to make it harder for them.” Resiliency means, for example, deploying proliferated constellations of large numbers of satellites and designing spacecraft with more advanced propulsion systems.
Raymond stood up a Space Warfighting Analysis Center to manage the architecture designs using digital models and simulations.
The SWAC already has completed its first study on the future mix of missile warning and missile tracking satellites. Raymond said this was a wide-ranging analysis involving several Defense Department agencies and the National Reconnaissance Office.
The next design effort will look at the space data transport architecture. “As you collect data in space, you have to have the ability to move that data at speed across the globe,” said Raymond.
The SWAC will design a space data transport layer, he said. “This is important as we bring in the Space Development Agency.” SDA, a Pentagon agency that will be merging with the Space Force later this year, is developing a data transport layer in low Earth orbit that will be part of the larger architecture of DoD and possibly commercial satellites.
The Space Force also will begin the design of a so-called tactical ISR architecture, short for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance.
That analysis will look at the use of small satellites to track moving objects on the ground, a project called GMTI — short for ground moving target indicator. The ISR architecture also is expected to be a mix of government and commercial satellites, and is being coordinated with the NRO.
All three proposed architecture designs — missile warning, tactical level ISR and the space data transport layer — will be reviewed by the Department of the Air Force and Defense Department leadership with the goal of funding new systems in the fiscal year 2024 budget request, said Raymond.