US Space Force Acquiring Space Development Agency and New Chief

On 3 October, the Space Development Agency (SDA) was formally transferred to the US Space Force. The SDA was created in 2019 just a few months before the US Space Force. Before then, the agency existed as directorate of the Department of Defense’s Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering. Its eventual merger with Space Force had long been expected.

The main mission given to the SDA following its inception was the implementation of the National Defense Space Architecture. In practice, this usually means overseeing military communications satellites.

Just recently on 30 September, York Space Systems was awarded $200 million by the SDA to construct and operate 12 experimental communications satellites. These satellites will be part of the Tranche 1 Demonstration and Experimentation System (T1DES) and carry Ultra-High Frequency (UHF) and S-band communications equipment. These technologies are already proven to work in geosynchronous orbit but now the SDA wants to see if they will work in low earth orbit. This builds on an order for 126 satellites for T1DES made by the SDA back in February.

In addition to getting the SDA, the Space Force is going to get a new chief. Last week, the senate confirmed Biden’s nominee for the next Chief of Space Operation; Lieutenant General Bradley Chance Saltzman is getting a chance to lead the USSF. Earlier in his career, as an Air Force officer, Saltzman had served as a missileer and then as a satellite operator for the National Reconnaissance Office. As a general, he was a leading proponent of multi-domain operations and served as second-in-command for Air Force Central Command. Since 2020, Saltzman had been one of the Space Force’s most senior officers.

Saltzman transferred to the Space Force in 2020.

Saltzman had the following to say about his confirmation:

“I’m humbled and honored to be confirmed as the next Chief of Space Operations. I look forward to leading the US Space Force and building on the strong foundational leadership Gen Raymond has provided for almost three years.”

Saltzman will be replacing General John W. Raymond – who recently helped introduce the new Space Force service song. Raymond was the first leader of the Space force and is retiring after a 38-year military career.