Job One for Space Force

The most important assignment of the US military space community is ensuring that there is no interruption to the critical services that on-orbit constellations provide, such as precision navigation, protected communications, and overhead sensing, says Gary Payton, Air Force space czar. “We have several critical missions that serve the entire nation; some missions serve the entire world. Our top priority is [their] continuity,” he told reporters Feb. 4. Beyond just ensuring that these constellations continue to function properly, this task also involves upgrading their capacity in a manner non-disruptive to the users, he said. For example, the Air Force last year placed the last Global Positioning System Block IIR navigation satellite into orbit. In May, it plans to launch the first of 12, more capable Block IIF spacecraft into space. Then, in 2014, it will smoothly transition to the even more powerful Block IIIA series.