Image: RNT Foundation

What’s New: Congress refused Space Force’s request to fund a small GPS satellite program.

Why It’s Important:

  • Space Force had already used special authority to reprogram $40M and start the effort.
  • The additional, smaller, satellites were supposed to make GPS more “proliferated” and resilient.
  • Congress seems to think that DOD is investigating other, better ways to get resilient PNT.

What Else to Know:

  • DOD does have lots of PNT technologies under investigation/ development. Some of them are just P & N.
  • Space Force was undoubtedly trying to improve the nation’s PNT situation, but feels constrained to “stay in space.” – Plus, when all you have is a hammer, everything tends to look like a nail.
  • The Appropriations Committee gave three reasons, two substantive, one procedural, for disapproving the $77M request:
    • “First, the R–GPS initiative purports to provide greater resilience by proliferating a constellation of about 20 small satellites transmitting core GPS signals. While proliferation may provide some advantages, it is not clear how these additional satellites increase the resilience against the primary jamming threat to GPS, compared to alternative concepts for position, navigation, and timing systems being pursued elsewhere in the Department of Defense.
    • Second, the initiative focuses solely on the space segment and does not address longstanding issues with the lack of M-code GPS user equipment, a critical link to enabling jam-resistant capabilities.
    • Third, the initiative could have been considered prior to enactment of the fiscal year 2024 Defense Appropriations Act or submitted as part of the fiscal year 2025 budget request. Instead, the Department chose to bypass its own budget process and dodge the congressional appropriations process to exercise this new, extraordinary authority.”