The Department of the Air Force fiscal 2024 budget requests funding for kinetic, “hard kill” and disabling “soft kill” of adversary threats in space, but, in keeping with U.S. commitments, any use of such means would not lead to increased space debris, Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall said.

While such programs are behind the black door, the U.S. Space Force plans to move out on a number of research and development (R&D)/acquisition fronts in fiscal 2024 to get after Kendall’s established operational imperative of a “resilient space order of battle.”

Two of the efforts are the National Security Space Launch (NSSL) program and the Rocket Systems Launch Program (RSLP) for the Space Force’s Space Development Agency. NSSL, now in Phase 2, is to ensure launch-on-need for national security satellites, while RSLP explores the benefits of small, experimental payloads. In fiscal 2024, Space Force requests $3 billion for 15 launches–10 with NSSL contractors SpaceX and United Launch Alliance (ULA)–a partnership between Lockheed Martin [LMT] and Boeing [BA]–and five with RSLP contractors ULA, SpaceX, Northrop Grumman [NOC] in Corinne, Utah, California’s VOX Space, and California’s Rocket Lab USA.

The NSSL/RSLP fiscal 2024 request is about $792 million more than the $2.2 billion appropriated for 10 launches last year.

Another effort to increase the resistance of space systems to attack are satellite communications projects under the Space Force. The service requested $4.7 billion for SATCOM projects–of which $4.1 billion is R&D–in fiscal 2024. If approved, that would be a $1.1 billion increase from last year’s appropriation.

The fiscal 2024 amount would help fund two Protected Tactical SATCOM-Prototype (PTS-P) payloads to prevent the jamming of DoD communications.

Boeing and Northrop Grumman are competing in the PTS-P program (Defense Daily, Nov. 15, 2022). PTS-P test launches are to begin next year.

The Space Force fiscal 2024 R&D request is about $19.2 billion, $2.6 billion more than enacted last year, while the service’s procurement request is $4.7 billion, about $250 million more than appropriated in fiscal 2023.