The Unified Data Library (UDL) is to be a significant part of the U.S. Space Force’s (USSF) contribution to the Department of the Air Force’s Advanced Battle Management System (ABMS)–the department’s component in the Pentagon’s planned Joint All Domain Command and Control (JADC2) military internet of things.

The “foundational capability” of compressed sensor-to-shooter and tactical decision making timelines “is the connectivity between all those sensors and shooters,” USSF Vice Chief of Space Operations Gen. David D. Thompson told a House Armed Services Committee (HASC) strategic forces panel hearing on military space programs on May 24.

“ABMS is a key part of that,” Thompson testified in response to a question on ABMS and JADC2 from Rep. Steven Horsford (D-Nev.). “A large part of that relay will need to occur through space, and, in addition, as part of our contribution to both ABMS and Joint All Domain Command and Control, the Space Force’s primary contribution at this point is through our Unified Data Library–the data repository that will be the access point, the distribution point, and the availability point of that sensor data, the ability to connect it to those shooters, and then apply machine learning artificial intelligence and human intervention to connect the information with the right decision maker/the right action arm at the right time.”

Last month, SMC awarded Colorado-based Bluestaq LLC a $280 million contract to develop the UDL for the USSF (Defense Daily, May 4).

USSF”s ATLAS system by L3Harris Technologies [LHX] is to be operational by next spring to pull data from the UDL and convert that data into useful space domain awareness and other information for military forces.

Space Force expects ATLAS to lead to a dramatic increase in the speed of processing and integrating space domain awareness data from a variety of commercial, civil, and military space sensors.

Omitron and Parsons Corp. [PSN] are subcontractors on ATLAS, which is to replace the Space Defense Operations Center (SPADOC), a space situational awareness computer system established in 1979 at the North American Aerospace Defense Command’s Cheyenne Mountain Complex in Colorado. The Air Force last upgraded SPADOC in 1989.

ATLAS is to harness machine-to-machine interfaces to accelerate the provision of space domain awareness data to USSF personnel.

In October 2018, SMC, then part of the U.S. Air Force, awarded a $53 million contract to L3Harris for ATLAS.

The May 24 HASC strategic forces panel hearing on military space programs seemed to indicate that lawmakers will be interested in migrating practices at the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) to USSF.

Christopher Scolese, the director of the NRO, told lawmakers that the agency’s systems have maintained “100 percent of their capabilities” throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and that NRO “accomplished six successful launches delivering 12 payloads to orbit, many with first-ever capabilities–the most NRO launches in a single year since 1984.”

Rep. Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.), the chairman of the HASC strategic forces panel, said that “the overall thrust here is we need to be able to field systems that work and field them faster” and that “in the effort to move things faster, I couldn’t help but be impressed by the NRO’s announcement [that] even during COVID, they were able to have six successful launches with 12 major payloads.”

The NRO “is the organization that I think most members of the Armed Services Committee had in mind when they were thinking about how the Space Force should be run–streamlined, flat, plenty of diversity, and get the job done, oftentimes with little fanfare.”

A new Government Accountability Office (GAO) report, Space Acquisitions: DOD Faces Challenges
and Opportunities with Acquiring Space Systems in a Changing Environment, noted progress by DoD in moving to rectify multi-billion dollar cost overruns and significant delays in the fielding of space systems.

Such problems have included the $20.7 billion Lockheed Martin [LMT] Space Based Infrared System (SBIRS)–a missile warning program that saw a nearly nine year delay in the launch of the first satellite and a 261 percent cost increase, and the $6.7 billion Raytheon Technologies [RTX] Global Positioning System Next Generation Operational Control System (GPS OCX)—a command and control system for the modernized Lockheed Martin GPS III satellites. Costs on GPS OCX increased by 73 percent, and its schedule is delayed nearly 5 years, GAO said.

GAO’s “past work has highlighted problems with DoD space acquisitions, including multi-billion dollar cost overruns, multi-year delays and deferred capabilities,” Jon Ludwigson, GAO’s director of contracting and national security acquisitions, told the HASC strategic forces panel on Monday. “Fortunately, many of the programs that led up to these findings are nearing completion. Many of the traditional programs are over budget and delayed, but some are not.”

Ludwigson said that GAO noted earlier this year that “despite having satellites capable of broadcasting a jam-resistant GPS signal for military users since 2005, DoD remains years away from widespread use of it.”