Space Force ‘days away’ from signing first commercial strategy

The document will offer guidance for how commercial tech can be integrated into the Space Force and which capabilities industry can provide as a service, said Lt. Gen. DeAnna Burt.
U.S. Space Force Major General DeAnna M. Burt speaks during a change of command ceremony for the Combined Force Space Component Command, United States Space Command, Nov. 16, 2020, at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California. During the event Major General John E. Shaw relinquished command of the CFSCC and deputy command of Space Operations Command, U.S. Space Force, to Burt who previously served as the Director of Operation and Communications, Headquarters USSF. (U.S. Air Force photo by Michael Peterson)

The Space Force is on the cusp of releasing its first-ever strategy that outlines exactly how the service plans to buy from and partner with the commercial space sector for its missions.

“We are days away, hopefully, from signing a commercial strategy,” Lt. Gen. DeAnna Burt, deputy chief of space operations for operations, cyber and nuclear, said during a Mitchell Institute webinar Friday. The strategy will offer guidance for how commercial technology can be integrated into the Space Force and which capabilities industry can provide as a service.

“Working with commercial [industry] to build a satellite or a rocket or a ‘thing’ is how we’ve historically worked. How do we start to think about buying things as a service? I don’t have to own a satellite, I don’t have to own those things. I just write a contract and buy a certain level of service from you,” she said.

The commercial strategy will be a revised version of an early draft sent to Chief of Space Operations Gen. Chance Saltzman. After reading the draft — which he described as full of “aspirational” discussions — Saltzman asked for the document to be fleshed out with more concrete definitions, examples and guidance for industry. 


“I didn’t think it provided the necessary specificity that would really help industry give us what we needed,” Saltzman said in October at an event hosted by the Center for a New American Security. “It wasn’t about a content thing, it was about — let’s provide some more specificity, some tangible guidance that I think industry is looking for from us.”

The Space Force has looked to better leverage the burgeoning commercial space sector over the past year, particularly when it comes to acquiring technologically mature capabilities and services. In 2023, the military branch opened a Commercial Space Office in order to connect with industry and understand how to integrate their capabilities into Space Force operations.

Burt noted that a growing space industry means the Pentagon could buy a range of capabilities as services from the commercial sector — including satellite communications, intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, and alternative positioning, navigation and timing.

“The space domain has not necessarily had a very large base in the past because of the cost of entry, and typically it was primarily the government running those capabilities,” she said. “Now that you see entrepreneurs and commercial [industry] going into the domain now and more nations are also spacefaring nations, you’re starting to see that industrial base start to build.”

Mikayla Easley

Written by Mikayla Easley

Mikayla Easley reports on the Pentagon’s acquisition and use of emerging technologies. Prior to joining DefenseScoop, she covered national security and the defense industry for National Defense Magazine. She received a BA in Russian language and literature from the University of Michigan and a MA in journalism from the University of Missouri. You can follow her on Twitter @MikaylaEasley

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