The eighth satellite in the Air Force’s Operationally Responsive Space series demonstrates the progress the service is making in speeding up space acquisition, said David Hardy, associate deputy undersecretary of the Air Force for space on Wednesday. “This is a process that took somewhere between three and four months,” from the time US Strategic Command made the request to getting the program funded. ORS-8, which will be ready to launch in 2020, would receive $88 million in President Donald Trump’s Fiscal 2018 budget proposal, released on Tuesday. Gen. John Hyten, commander of STRATCOM, wanted a gap-filling system to perform cloud characterization and theater weather imagery in place of the aging Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP). ORS-8 will not provide a long-term solution—that requirement will be met by Weather Satellite Follow-on E (WSF-E). But because WSF-E has an initial launch capability date of 2023, Hyten asked for ORS-8 to provide environmental monitoring in the meantime. “It’s a very streamlined decision process,” Hardy insisted. “This is actually an example of precisely what I believe Chairman Rogers wants,” he said, making reference to Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Ala.), chairman of the House strategic forces subcommittee. Rogers has said the space acquisition process is too slow because too many stakeholders are involved in space decisions, and Air Force Space Command boss Gen. Jay Raymond has echoed his concern.
Supply chain and vanishing vendor issues make supporting old nuclear systems increasingly difficult, Global Strike Command’s logistics and engineering chief Brig. Gen. Kenyon K. Bell said. Additive printing will be a big help but can be hampered by bureaucracy.