Space Force to establish a new command to oversee technology development and acquisition
by Sandra Erwin — April 8, 2021
The Space Force plans to stand up a Space Systems Command this summer, pending the nomination and Senate confirmation of a three-star commander.
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Space Force on April 8 unveiled new details of its plan to establish a Space Systems Command in Los Angeles to oversee the development of next-generation technologies, and the procurement of satellites and launch services.
The Space Systems Command, or SSC, will take over responsibilities currently performed by the Space and Missile Systems Center and by the Space Force launch wings in Florida and California that currently are not part of SMC. Altogether SSC will oversee a workforce of about 10,000 people.
The Space Force will re-designate the Space and Missile Systems Center as SSC headquarters. SMC, based at Los Angeles Air Force Base, in El Segundo, California, has a $9 billion annual budget and a workforce of about 6,300 military, civilian personnel and contractors.
About 4,000 people who work for the space launch units at Patrick Space Force Base, Florida; and Vandenberg Air Force Base, California will be reassigned to SSC. Both space launch wings currently report to the Space Force’s Space Operations Command.
Officials said the new command is more than just a rebranding of the Space and Missile Systems Center. SSC will have broader responsibilities to coordinate space programs across the U.S. military.
The proposal to stand up SSC is the result of a “deliberate year-long process to plan the Space Systems Command and specifically the organizational design,” the commander of the Space and Missile Systems Center Lt. Gen. John Thompson, told SpaceNews.
SSC will be one of three Space Force field commands the service announced in June. The Space Operations Command was established in October and headquartered in Colorado Springs, Colorado. A Space Training and Readiness Command is projected to open later this year.
All three field commands are led by three-star generals who answer to Gen. John Raymond, the chief of space operations. The commands operate under the authority of the secretary of the Air Force, the civilian leader of the Space Force.
Thompson said the Space Force is confident SSC can be stood up this summer but the exact timeline depends on when a three-star commander is nominated by President Biden and confirmed by the Senate.
The acquisition arm of the Space Force is a high priority of Raymond, who has called for the service to speed up the procurement of cutting-edge technology to stay ahead of adversaries like China and Russia. He also has argued that the Space Force has to be more agile in order to tap into the innovation coming out of the private sector.
“Space Systems Command’s organizational structure was purpose-built to anticipate and be responsive to the challenges presented by a contested space domain,” Raymond told reporters April 8.
Raymond said having a field command for acquisition will bring “unity of effort” in the development and acquisition of space capabilities for warfighters and “get people rolling in the right direction.”