Space Force Requests $30 Billion for FY2024, Embracing Resilient Architectures

Space Force Requests $30 Billion for FY2024, Embracing Resilient Architectures

DOD’s FY2024 budget request includes $30 billion for the U.S. Space Force, about $4 billion more than FY2023. The request supports the Space Force’s embrace of profilerated constellations of many small satellites in various low and medium orbits instead of a few large satellites in geostationary orbit that are easier for adversaries to target — what DOD officials call a “resilient architecture.”

The Space Force is part of the Department of the Air Force. Kristyn Jones, Acting Under Secretary of the Air Force, and Maj. Gen. Michael Greiner, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Budget, briefed reporters on the Air Force and Space Force budget requests yesterday.

Congress appropriated $26.3 billion for the Space Force in FY2023, higher than the $24.5 billion requested. This year, the request is another increase to $30 billion: $4.9 billion for Operations and Management; $1.2 billion for Military Personnel; $19.2 billion for research, development, test, and evaluation; and $4.7 billion for procurement.

Source: Department of the Air Force FY2024 Budget Overview.

The RDT&E request is $2.6 billion more than FY2023. Greiner said it “pivots toward resilient architectures and embodies an integrated deterrence approach establishing the Space Force’s ability to operate in a highly contested environment.”

The Space Development Agency (SDA), which moved from the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering into the Space Force last fall, is developing a seven-layer network of satellite and ground systems called the Proliferated Warfighter Space Architecture. Constellations of satellites in low Earth orbit (LEO) and medium Earth orbit (MEO) will be launched in tranches to meet a variety of requirements. Greiner said the FY2024 request adds $1.1 billion for the data transport layer.

Space Force’s Space Systems Command is developing the Resilient Missile Warning/Missile Tracking proliferated system of LEO and MEO satellites to track hypersonic missiles. The request adds $1.1 billion for that as well.

Missile warning and tracking traditionally is done using satellites in geostationary orbit (GEO). The current Space-Based Infrared System (SBIRS) will be replaced by Next Generation Overhead Persistent Infrared (Next-Gen OPIR) satellites beginning in 2025. The plan was to put three Next-Gen OPIR satellites in GEO plus two in Highly Elliptical Orbit (HEO) polar orbits.

With the move to proliferated systems in lower orbits, however, the FY2024 budget request does not support the third GEO satellite. At a hearing of the Strategic Forces Subcommittee of the Senate Armed Services Committee today, Subcommittee Ranking Member Sen. Deb Fischer (R-Neb) asked Gen. B. Chance Saltzman, Chief of Space Operations, to explain why.

Saltzman assured her the Space Force is not abandoning the GEO satellites. The new plan is two in GEO and two in HEO in addition to the proliferated systems in LEO and MEO. The end result is greater resiliency for missile warning, a “no fail” mission. He later quoted now-retired Gen. John Hyten who famously called GEO satellites “big juicy targets” to illustrate their vulnerability.

The request also reduces the number of Global Positioning Satellite III (GPS III ) satellites that will be procured in FY2024. GPS III is the latest version of the GPS navigation satellite system of 24 operational satellites plus on-orbit spares.  At yesterday’s briefing, Greiner said the FY2024 request removes two GPS III satellite procurements because the constellation is healthy and “we actually have a little bit of a backlog” launching them, with three awaiting launch right now.

Also during the briefing, Jones said the budget “includes funding for both defensive and offensive space capabilities.” When asked what the offensive capabilities are, however, she demurred.

“So we need to be able to defend our space assets from anyone that might try to do us harm. In this environment we can’t say too much, that would be at the classified level, but what I would say is that anything from the offensive space side is consistent with White House guidance about offensive space capabilities.”  — Kristyn Jones

In April 2022, Vice President Kamala Harris, as chair of the White House National Space Council, committed the United States to not conducting debris-generating direct-ascent anti-satellite weapon tests and called on other countries to join the pledge. Ten countries have done so and 155 countries agreed to a similar United Nations resolution in December.

Jones and Greiner’s briefing charts provide somewhat more information on the request, including these four.


The Space Force is part of the $842 billion request for DOD. The DOD Comptroller’s office says “The FY 2024 request continues aggressively integrating the Space Force into the fabric of national and international security by collaborating across the Department of Defense, interagency, commercial industry, and our allies and partners. Space is a warfighting domain critical to the Nation’s security, economic prosperity, and scientific knowledge, therefore, the FY 2024 request reflects a substantial increase in funding over previous budget requests.”

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin’s statement uses a higher figure for how much is being requested for space: $33.3 billion instead of $30 billion. The Air Force did not immediately respond to a request to explain the discrepancy. Austin highlighted these investments:

Source: Statement by Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin on the FY2024 budget request, March 13, 2023.


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