WASHINGTON – The Space Force has launched its vision for integrated testing of satellites, sensors, ground systems and other capabilities, outlining a plan for developing the organizations and infrastructure needed to work in an increasingly contentious environment.

IN vision documentsigned in March by Deputy Space Chief General David Thompson and released on Tuesday, calls for the creation of a flexible test force as well as a more capable range infrastructure that can support the service as it integrates capabilities, including artificial intelligence and widespread satellite constellations.

The space force, and previously the air force, has traditionally tested capabilities with two main factors: ensuring that the satellite can survive a launch and that it can operate in harsh environments. Emerging threats from opponents such as China and Russia have prompted the service to rethink how it designs spacecraft. This change, the document says, requires a new approach to how systems are tested.

“To stay ahead, the USSF testing enterprise must evolve to deal with the very real threat and emergence of new technologies and opportunities, while maximizing the effectiveness of an extremely small service if we are to provide reliable combat capabilities in operational deadlines “, the document says.

In August, the Space Forces established a Space Training and Preparedness Team, responsible for advancing the service’s tests and training. STARCOM will play a key role in the development of integrated test forces and operational infrastructure. He will work closely with other organizations, including the Space Forces Testing and Evaluation Team, the Space Operations Command, the Space Systems Command and the Force Builders of the Space Warfare Analysis Center.

To move towards this more integrated approach, the service is focused on setting up a testing organization, developing its workforce and investing in infrastructure.

Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, STARCOM Commander Major General Sean Bratton said a key feature of the organization was that it would streamline development and operation tests. Instead of conducting development tests as a system and operational testing is built to confirm this work, STARCOM envisages the service combining these efforts, saving time and money.

“Instead of conducting two separate tests with two separate test results at two different times, we will both reduce the schedule and then we think we will be more efficient just because we will conduct an integrated test activity that will meet the requirements for both the test. development, and for the operational test, “he said. “We need to prove this in practice and gather data to show that it is, but we absolutely believe that it will save money.”

In terms of infrastructure, the service plans to create a national space test and training complex that will combine high-precision virtual testing capabilities with orbit range.

“Our ability to effectively deliver vital space capabilities to fighters will be determined by our ability to develop the NSTTC, which is live, virtual and constructive, needed to test these capabilities,” the document said. “The complex will be thin, efficient, interoperable with other joint test infrastructure, supporting multiple interests within the Space Forces.

The Space Systems Command will lead the development of the NSTTC infrastructure, working closely with STARCOM and operational users to define requirements and integrate capabilities. The service is in the process of developing a capability roadmap for the NSTTC.

Courtney Alban is a C4ISRNET reporter for space and new technologies. Previously, it covered the US Air Force and the US Space Force.


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