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Space Force to Get $26.3 Billion for Communication Satellites and Tracking Missiles in 2023

The government funding bill gave the Space Force nearly $1.7 billion more than what the Pentagon had requested.

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Air Force Band members and guests sing the new U.S. Space Force service song during the 2022 Air, Space and Cyber Conference in National Harbor, Md., Sept. 20, 2022.
Air Force Band members singing the new U.S. Space Force theme song during the 2022 Air, Space and Cyber Conference in National Harbor.
Photo: U.S. Space Force

The U.S. Space Force is getting a piece of a massive government funding bill, which it will use to boost the number of its satellites and to expand its newly acquired Space Development Agency (SDA).

On Thursday, the Senate approved a $1.7 trillion government funding bill and on Friday, the House did the same, sending the bill to the President’s desk. $858 billion is slated to go towards defense funding, CNBC reported. The Defense Department received $69.3 billion more than what it did in 2022, and the U.S. Space Force will receive $26.3 billion out of that chunk of change. That’s nearly $1.7 billion more than what the Pentagon had requested for the military branch, according to estimates by the consulting firm Velos that were reported by SpaceNews.

It’s also a lot more than what the Space Force had received in 2022. Last year, Congress allocated $18.05 billion for the Space Force and $1.5 billion for the SDA.

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The Space Force is gaining ground as the sixth branch of the U.S. military. The U.S. Army recently transferred its satellite ground stations to the Space Force, and the government is looking to rely more on commercial partnerships to build satellite constellations in low Earth orbit. That’s where a large portion of the funding will be directed towards: satellites.

More than $500 million of the budget will go towards the SDA, according to SpaceNews. The SDA was transferred to the Space Force in October to develop “a threat-driven constellation of small satellites,” according to a statement by the Space Force at the time. “SDA programs will be an integral part of the space architecture in areas such as communications, data transport, and missile warning and tracking,” the statement added.

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The SDA was established in 2019 as an effort for the government to shift towards low orbit satellite constellations with the help of commercially developed technologies. The agency was supposed to launch its first batch of missile tracking and data relay satellites this year, but the launch suffered multiple delays and slipped into next year.

Around $442 million from the budget will go towards building a wide-band communications satellite to support military operations, according to SpaceNews. However, it wasn’t clear whether the funding would go towards the Wideband Global SATCOM system that’s already being built in low Earth orbit and projected to be completed in 2024.

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“Space is vital to U.S. national security and integral to modern warfare,” the White House wrote in a summary of the budget. “The budget maintains America’s advantage by improving the resilience of U.S. space architectures to bolster deterrence and increase survivability during hostilities.”

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