The U.S. Air Force’s new Space Enterprise Consortium, which promotes the development of industry prototypes, is getting a five-fold increase in funding because the service is pleased with its results, according to a top Air Force space official.

Air Force acquisition chief Will Roper recently approved raising the consortium’s $100 million ceiling to $500 million because the entity has “been so useful to us” in rapidly acquiring new capabilities, said Gen. John “Jay” Raymond, the head of Air Force Space Command, who spoke May 24 at an Air Force Association event. 

Air Force Space Command chief Gen. John Raymond. Photo: Air Force.
Air Force Space Command chief Gen. John Raymond. Photo: Air Force.

“The first award was made in April of this year,” Raymond said. “Since then, they’ve awarded money to build almost a dozen different prototypes. And they’ve got several more solicitations out for award as we speak. They’re averaging about three months from solicitation to award.”

The consortium has announced awards to Blue Canyon Technologies and Millennium Space Systems for Tetra, a microsatellite that will be used to prototype missions and tactics, techniques and procedures.

It has also given an award to a team of Boeing [BA], General Atomics, Leidos [LDOS], Lockheed Martin [LMT], Maxar’s [MAXR] SSL, Millennium Space Systems, Northrop Grumman [NOC] and Raytheon [RTN] to design concepts for missile-tracking systems.

The Air Force tapped Advanced Technology International (ATI) in November to manage the consortium.

Raymond said that interest in participating in the consortium continues to grow. According to the consortium’s website, there are 162 “current members.” Air Force officials previously reported that the consortium had about 100 members.

Also during his speech, Raymond touted Air Force efforts to increase international cooperation in space. He said the Joint Space Operations Center at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California will become the Combined Space Operations Center this summer to further integrate allies into space operations.

He also said the Air Force is working to put a space situational awareness payload on a Japanese satellite and place communication payloads on two Norwegian satellites.

In addition, in conjunction with next year’s National Space Symposium in Colorado, the Air Force plans to host an international air chiefs conference focused on space.