The new Mitchell Institute Space Power Advantage Research Center (MISPARC) aims to become the leading organization for the advancement of military space technology, policy and strategy.

“One of the first things MISPARC is going to do is put together a policy position platform,” Matt Donovan, the center’s director and a former undersecretary of the U.S. Air Force, said in a Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies’ virtual forum on Apr. 26. “There are some interesting things to discuss and hammer out, one being the authorities that Congress put together in Title 10 and some of the limitations…We’ll also look at capabilities, assuring communications and space implications with that. There are also some cutting-edge technologies we’ll look at, such as nuclear-powered propulsion systems for space craft.”

Established in December 2019, U.S. Space Force may soon have its own service acquisition executive to further the rapid development of space systems and reduce the chances of the duplication of space systems by the military services.

MISPARC is also to tackle the issue of the so-called “pass-through budget,” the practice of accounting for billions of dollars in intelligence community spending within the Air Force budget topline, rather than in the intelligence agency budgets.

The pass-through budget “becomes even more critical now when you consider that the Department of the Air Force budget includes funding for two separate military services [the Air Force and the Space Force]. That’s something we’ll pursue as well.”

Donovan said that when he was in the Air Force, “we weren’t asking for more money.”

“We were just asking for the budget to be transparent and to show the actual [military service funding] divisions,” he said. “You’ve all heard about the proportional budget splits, and some people think that each service should get a fair share of the budget. That’s not a threat-based approach to resource allocation, and it doesn’t really make sense. Why don’t we just level the playing field? If the Secretary of the Air Force has the total budget authority, but it’s actually about $40 billion less than what that total budget authority actually is, then it’s not really budget authority, if the Secretary of the Air Force has no say over how those funds are spent in support of his or her Title 10 authorities. I think it’s very important that this be pursued.”

Assisting Donovan at MISPARC will be senior fellow Chris Stone, a professor of space studies and an Air National Guard member assigned to the National Reconnaissance Office and the Mitchell Institute’s senior research analyst, Lukas Autenried.