The Defense Department is expected to request approximately $270 million in its fiscal year 2020 budget to stand up a Space Force headquarters, a Space Development Agency and U.S. Space Command, according to draft documents, Space News reports.
The amount is modest compared to multibillion-dollar estimates that have been floated in the past several months. The 2020 request would cover the cost of setting up the Space Development Agency, U.S. Space Command and the Space Force headquarters — if and when Congress authorizes the establishment of the new branch. The Pentagon projects that the Space Force budget will increase over the next several years due to mission demands.
In the 2020 budget, the Pentagon would request $64 million to stand up the Space Force headquarters, $120 million for the Space Development Agency and $84 million for U.S. Space Command — $76 million of which would be transferred from existing accounts. These numbers are from a draft memo that the Pentagon’s cost assessment and program evaluation office, known as CAPE, circulated in late December to inform the 2020 budget request and the Space Force legislative proposal. The draft document, which was reviewed by SpaceNews, is labeled “pre-decisional.”
In a memo to the White House Office of Management and Budget, CAPE director Bob Daigle said the fiscal year 2020 budget “includes the resources to start a preliminary headquarters, begin work at the SDA and establish a U.S. Space Command.”
Once a U.S. Space Force is authorized by Congress, the Defense Department will transfer additional resources from the Air Force to the Space Force in 2021, Daigle wrote. In subsequent years, more resources will be transferred from the Army and the Navy “in order to fully implement an independent U.S. Space Force service,” Space News added.
The new branch would sit within the Department of the Air Force. Once Congress authorizes a Space Force, the first step will be for the Pentagon to nominate its leaders — a space undersecretary, a chief of staff and a vice chief of staff. The headquarters would be staffed with a combination of Air Force and other service transfers, new hires, details and contractors. The next phase would be the transfer of program management responsibilities and personnel from the Air Force, Army and Navy to the Space Force. That would likely take several years, according to the CAPE memo. “The department recommends a phased approach,” the memo states.
The 2020 budget is a “starting point,” the memo said. CAPE noted that the budget plan does not include “mission growth that may be needed to meet the evolving threat.”
The Space Force headquarters would start out with about 200 people, but over time could expand to 500 or 1,000. “Space capabilities are a rapidly evolving and growing portion of the Department’s activities and future resource needs will almost certainly evolve in each budget cycle,” the memo said, Space News writes.