Congress plans funding cuts for Defense space systems

Space programs in the Defense Department face significant cuts this budget cycle, signaling frustration among legislators that the programs continue to come in over budget and behind schedule.

Lawmakers included a provision in the 2006 Defense Authorization Act requiring the Defense secretary to develop a biannual strategy for space situational awareness and commissioning an independent study to assess options for evolving the Advanced Extremely High Frequency and Wideband Gapfiller systems.

But legislators said they were most concerned with the development of the department's Transformational Satellite Communications initiative and the Space Radar program. The House Armed Services Committee proposed a $400 million reduction to TSAT and a $126 million reduction to the Space Radar program.

The Senate Armed Services Committee proposed reducing TSAT by $200 million and the Space Radar Program by $75 million.
Earlier this year, Linton Wells, acting Defense CIO, warned that congressional leaders were fed up with DOD's management of its space programs.

'The whole satellite question is under review. Anything that flies in orbit is tarred by association,' Wells said in January.

TSAT is designed to assist communications over the Global Information Grid, DOD's massive project to create a worldwide network for voice, data and video communications. The project also would form a laser communications backbone in space and will operate at multiple gigabits per second. Senior Defense leaders are pushing for the system as a way to free users from existing bandwidth constraints.

The Space Radar program is an attempt to build a constellation of 12 to 24 radar satellites with the capability to track ground movement and collect high-resolution imagery.

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