Today’s hearing on space situational awareness.

Rep. Mike Rogers (R-AL), Chairman of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Strategic Forces, made the following remarks, as prepared for delivery, on today’s hearing: Space Situational Awareness – Whole of Government Perspectives on Roles and Responsibilities.

“Good morning.  I’m excited to host this joint hearing with my sister committee from HSST on space situational awareness [SSA].

“Ever since the first satellite was launched into space in 1957 people here on earth have tried to track man-made space objects.  During the Cold War space object tracking became an inherently DoD mission using ballistic missile early warning radars and the infrastructure associated with launch detection.

Clutter in the cosmos.
Credit: Used with permission: Melrae Pictures/Space Junk 3D

From tracking one small sphere in 1957 to over 20,000 objects in today’s space catalog we have come a long way.  But for the most part we have still maintained space surveillance as a DoD mission, or at least a mission that is fulfilled using DoD funded-sensors.

On Monday President Trump directed the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to begin the process necessary to establish a space force as the sixth branch of the armed forces and he also signed a space policy directive on space traffic management that is beginning to shift that paradigm.

Space force

Let me just briefly say that while this hearing is not on the Space Force, this has been one of my personal priorities for this subcommittee and I’m thrilled to have the continued support of the President in this endeavor.

From RAND report: The U.S.-China Military Scorecard: Forces, Geography, and the Evolving Balance of Power 1996–2017.

The document that President Trump signed directs the Department of Commerce to take responsibility for DoD’s existing commercial and foreign entities public SSA services.  It advances SSA science and technology, improves SSA data standards and information sharing, and encouraging U.S. commercial leadership in SSA.

I’m encouraged by this effort. Space situational awareness is key to understanding what is in space and how it supports our military, economy, and society down here on earth.  In the end, the DoD’s number one mission is to prepare for, fight, and win wars.  And so the focus of this hearing will be what are the roles and responsibilities of the DoD, Commerce, and NASA in providing for SSA.  In particular I’m focused on making sure that DoD requirements are being met by DoD systems, and civil and commercial requirements are met by other appropriate government agencies.  To hear more about the recently signed directive we have excellent panel of witnesses, I thank each of you for taking time today to testify in front of us.”

Wilber Ross, Secretary of Commerce

Jim Bridenstine, Administrator, National Aeronautics and Space Administration

General John Hyten, Commander, United States Strategic Command

To view the hearing, go to:

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