Department of Defense

Reduce Waste in USAF Space Operations

The USAF has the capability to safely and reliably automate much of its standard day-to-day space operations but chooses not to. More than 4 squadrons of active duty and reserve space operators currently exist at Schriever AFB, CO to fly the Nation's GPS, MILSATCOM, and other satellites. Within the MILSATCOM squadrons, the Command and Control System-Consolidated (CCS-C) system has the capability to automate routine satellite contacts -- satellite health/safety, routine orbit maintenance, and other activities that currently are performed frequently but manually – but the 50 SW refuses to implement it. Automating routine and common but non-routine functions would allow 75% or more manpower reductions, resulting in 50% or more savings in O&M costs by reducing training course throughput /duplication of effort; system maintenance/sustainment across multiple, disparate satellite command/control systems; personnel costs; and utility costs. This transition would take ~3 years including development, testing, and fielding. While up-front investment of around $10M may be required to expand the CCS-C system to other satellite constellations besides the MILSATCOM satellites, the system has proven that it can accept new satellites easily without increasing ops manpower, and the long-term savings will pay this investment back within the FYDP. By example, the 3rd and 4th Space Operations Squadrons, who operate MILSATCOM satellites with CCS-C, absorbed nearly all of the PBD-720 manpower reductions for the 50th Space Wing based on the level of automation possible with CCS-C while adding new satellites. The US Navy has had fully-autonomous satellite operations since 1998 at both Point Mugu, CA and Blossom Point, MD – no human touches the system except to occasionally update mission tasking and to respond to severe anomalies. I recommend the White House mandate a paradigm shift in USAF space operations toward efficiency by mandating fewer squadrons and more automation.

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Idea No. 5394