FAA to Request FY18 Funds for Space Traffic Mission

The Federal Aviation Administration is likely to request fiscal year 2018 funds from Congress to support taking on aspects of the space situational awareness (SSA) debris tracking mission, Lt. Gen. David Buck told Congress Friday. “My understanding is that there’s going to be an FY18 budget request coming out of the FAA,” said Buck, who is commander of the Joint Functional Component Command for Space (JFCC) at US Strategic Command and commander of the 14th Air Force. The Air Force and the FAA have been in talks to arrange handing-off some aspects of the SSA mission from the military to the civil agency. Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-Okla.) said he supports the change and that Congressional members “want to load-shed the mission but they don’t want to load-shed the funding,” because “the Air Force was never funded to provide space situational awareness to the entire world and commercial operators for free.” Rep. Rick Larsen (D-Wash.), who is the ranking member on the House Transportation aviation subcommittee, also expressed caution, saying he is “reluctant to have the debris tracking dumped on the FAA” right now because “there’s a lot of debate going on right now in the FAA about reorganizing it overall.” He said additional “oversight” would be required with the change to place it “in context of all the other things we’re trying to do at the FAA.”