Changing the Space Composition

Military space capability of the future likely will rely less on constellations of sophisticated military-specific satellites and more on some level of simplified military spacecraft coupled with supplemental on-orbit capability like payloads hosted on commercial satellites, said Lt. Gen. Ellen Pawlikowski, commander of the Space and Missile Systems Center, USAF’s space acquisition arm, Monday. “I like to think of it as a change in the composition of what the architecture looks like as opposed to a complete change of the architecture,” she told reporters at the Air Force Association’s Air & Space Conference in National Harbor, Md., just outside of Washington, D.C. “What I think we will be able to do is potentially simplify those [military-specific] satellites so that we will reduce the cost of the backbone, if you will.” For example, Pawlikowski said, instead of building a large constellation of Advanced Extremely High Frequency satellites for protected military communications, the nation could invest in “a tactical advanced EHF” system, “a smaller tactical-level payload that maybe doesn’t have the degree of protection that Advanced EHF has, but it is very, very useful to us.” Doing that might reduce the number of AEHF birds and their sophistication, thereby reducing costs, she said.