– Space systems, such as satellites, are crucial for military operations, but they are facing increasing threats.– Space command and control (Space C2) is a software-intensive system developed by the Department of Defense to make timely decisions and counter threats to space assets.– The Space C2 program has faced persistent management challenges and has made changes to address them, but it is uncertain if these changes will lead to improvement.– The program has scaled back development efforts, leading to reliance on older systems until critical requirements are completed.– The annual report and internal reports of the Space C2 program lack clear progress tracking and consistent metrics.– Improved tracking and reporting would help demonstrate the program’s progress and address the persistent delays in delivering key capabilities.
According to an article in a report released by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) on June 8, 2023, the Department of Defense’s (DOD) Space Command and Control (Space C2) program faces persistent delays in delivering key capabilities, and improved tracking and consistent metrics are necessary to demonstrate progress.
Space systems, such as satellites, are essential to the military’s ability to project combat power, collect intelligence, navigate, and communicate across the globe. However, threats to military space systems are growing in an increasingly crowded space domain. Space command and control is crucial for military commanders to make timely, strategic decisions and take tactical actions to meet mission goals while countering threats to US space assets.
The Space C2 program is the DOD’s latest software-intensive system intended to provide this capability. The program is making changes to address persistent management challenges, such as shifting additional res to meet critical, complex requirements after years of focus on less critical requirements. However, it is too soon to tell if these changes will lead to improvement.
The report highlights that the program documentation and reporting, both in its annual report and internal reports, do not give a clear picture of progress. The 2022 Space C2 annual report addressed statutory requirements but did not provide context or performance results data necessary to understand To wrap everything up progress. Similarly, internal reporting does not provide consistent results based on metrics that would enable comparison across reports.
Furthermore, program documents do not show how Space C2 will ensure it is on track to meet requirements. Historically, Space C2 did not complete all planned development efforts as scheduled, and the lack of documentation obscures a useful picture of progress.
With its persistent delays in delivering key capabilities, improved tracking and consistent metrics would help demonstrate the extent to which the Space C2 program is making progress.
According to an article in the GAO report, between 2000 and 2022, the Department of the Air Force spent over $1.7 billion to replace its systems that track and communicate with satellites. The Space C2 program is intended to provide a modernized capability for space command and control, but the program’s delays and lack of progress reporting raise concerns about the program’s effectiveness.
In an increasingly crowded and contested space domain, the US military’s ability to operate effectively in space is critical. The Space C2 program’s ability to provide timely and accurate data collection and analysis is essential for military commanders to make informed decisions and take tactical actions to meet mission goals.
All things considered, the GAO report highlights the need for improved tracking and consistent metrics to demonstrate the extent to which the Space C2 program is making progress. With its persistent delays in delivering key capabilities, the program’s effectiveness in providing a modernized capability for space command and control is in question. As threats to military space systems continue to grow, ensuring the US military’s ability to operate effectively in space is crucial.