The House Armed Services Committee’s (HASC) Strategic Forces Subcommittee included two assignments for the nascent Space Development Agency (SDA) in its fiscal year 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) markup summary, but will withhold funding until implementation plans are submitted to Congress.

Subcommittee members require the SDA to establish a new program to prototype an M-code based, multi-global navigation satellite system receiver to include trusted and open signals from both allied and non-allied partners, in an effort to boost resiliency and capability of military positioning, navigation and timing equipment.

Low angled view of the U.S. Capitol East Facade Front in Washington, DC.

However, funding for such a program would be fenced until a briefing and report on the implementation plan have been submitted to Congress, according to the executive summary released June 3.

HASC Strategic Forces also requires the SDA to procure commercial space situational awareness services, citing delays and ballooning costs of the Air Force program of record as the reason why they are shifting responsibility to the forthcoming SDA. That funding is also fenced until those commercial services are procured, the summary said.

With these recommendations, the subcommittee appears to be largely supportive of the establishment of the SDA within the Defense Department, which does not require congressional approval but has been questioned by lawmakers on Capitol Hill nonetheless. The House Appropriations Committee removed the Trump administration’s request for $50 million to stand up the SDA in its FY ’20 defense appropriations bill, approved May 20.

The Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC)’s FY ’20 NDAA markup executive summary did not include any direction regarding the SDA, and aides referred reporters to the forthcoming bill report for details.

The HASC Strategic Forces subcommittee markup summary does not include recommendations for President Trump’s requested Space Force, and committee staff members told reporters Monday that that issue would be addressed by the full committee.

Among other space-related issues the subcommittee addresses in the markup is a directive to extend an annual determination for plans to build the Air Force’s next-generational overhead persistent infrared (OPIR) capability, to require a plan be submitted each fiscal year until 2029.

That directive will allow Congress to see how the current next-generation OPIR activities in development with industry partners could be integrated with efforts taken on by the SDA, a committee staff member said. Lockheed Martin [LMT] and Northrop Grumman [NOC] have won contracts with the Air Force to begin developing the next-generation early missile warning system.

Subcommittee members also want to require the Defense Department to submit reports related to the efficient acquisition of commercial satellite communication as well as improving resilience of space architectures.