The Pentagon is on schedule to deliver a legislative proposal for the nascent U.S. Space Force later this month, which is expected to lay out requested authorities and authorizations that can help the new service get off the ground, a senior department official said Feb. 6.
The proposal, due Feb. 20, or 60 days after the establishment of the Space Force, will allow lawmakers to continue to be part of the process to stand up the service, said Stephen Kitay, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Space Policy at a Mitchell Institute breakfast Thursday on Capitol Hill.
The fiscal year 2020 National Defense Authorization Act, which approved the creation of the Space Force, provided the Pentagon with plenty of flexibility in building the new branch, “which I think is extremely helpful,” he said. But Congress was also very clear that its lawmakers should be part of the process and requested a number of regular reports to keep track of Pentagon progress, he added.
The department delivered its first Space Force-related report to Capitol Hill Feb. 3, Kitay said. That report, provided by Air Force Secretary Barbara Barrett, offered a summary of the “macro-level organizational elements.” The Feb. 20 legislative proposal “is that next milestone, and we are working right now across the department to bring a package to the secretary of defense, which will then go to the White House and then eventually, to Congress,” he said.
Kitay declined to elaborate further on the details of the proposal, but noted, “There are elements that we are going to want to continue to work on with Congress as we build this out together.”
The new service will focus its area of responsibility on the traditional orbits for national security activity – low Earth orbit, medium Earth orbit, highly elliptical orbit and geosynchronous Earth orbit – and would mostly delegate cislunar and beyond activities to NASA, as is the case today, Kitay said. However, “we can’t be limited in our thinking,” he cautioned. “If we see threats beyond geosynchronous orbit, we need to be ready for them. … I do think that the Space Force is going to need to think broadly.”