What’s Next for SBSS?

The future of the Space Based Space Surveillance satellite program is not clear. The Defense Department has tasked Air Force Secretary Michael Donley, who serves as the DOD executive agent for space, to look at a range of alternatives to help inform decisions for the Pentagon’s Fiscal 2013 budget. There is no funding in the Air Force’s Fiscal 2012 spending proposal for a follow-on to the SBSS Block 10 satellite that went into space last fall. “I think the intent here is to take a step back, recognize that space situational awareness is absolutely critical to what we do. We do a lot of it already. National Space Policy tells us to do more. We are committed to that mission area,” Air Force Undersecretary Erin Conaton said during a briefing with reporters Tuesday. However, she added, the department needs to evaluate its options before committing more funding to the SBSS program. “I think you will see continued investment in [space situational awareness]. I don’t know that we will go back to this specific program with this specific approach,” she said.