The flags of the service branches outside the Minnesota State Capitol building on May 22, 2021.

The flags of the service branches outside the Minnesota State Capitol building on May 22, 2021. Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

The Air & Space Brief: Space Force vs. Army; Budget Day; Leaders testify; And more...

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The Army and Space Force are tussling over low Earth orbit. “Over the last several months, Space Force officials have been negotiating with their Army and Navy counterparts over what missions and personnel will transfer into the newest branch, which is part of the Department of the Air Force. To date, no agreements have been signed on what satellites or units will transfer over, though handshake deals and draft plans indicate that some progress is being made.” Read on, here.

Budget Day will be Fri., May 28—not Thurs, May 27—for all you budget watchers who were hoping to get an early start on Memorial Day weekend.  

Livestream the latest insight into Space Force spending priorities at 11 a.m. as John Hill, assistant defense secretary for space policy; Gen. David Thompson, vice chief of space operations; and the heads of the National Reconnaissance Office and National Geospatial Intelligence Agency testify before the House Armed Services Committee subcommittee on strategic forces on their 2022 budget request.

Like other pre-budget-rollout service force posture testimonies, program heads likely won’t provide specific numbers. But they will likely face questions on how Space Force will begin to interweave its plan to develop ground-level surveillance that it conducts from space with the existing capabilities in the intelligence community. The GAO will be there too, to address lawmaker concerns that Space Force has been too slow to ramp up its space acquisitions capabilities.

More pre-budget insights are expected from Tuesday’s Senate confirmation hearing for Frank Kendall to be Air Force Secretary. If confirmed, Kendall will take over the service as it faces important milestone decisions on the F-35 and a plan, first unveiled by Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. CQ Brown, to retire some airframes

The first human launch into space from New Mexico happened Saturday, as VirginGalatic’s SpaceShipTwo took off from Truth or Consequences, N.M.,-based Spaceport America, SpaceNews reported. A crew of two made a quick flight into space before landing back at the base an hour later.  

IG interest in Space Force firing: The Air Force Inspector General is taking over an investigation into the firing of Lt. Col. Matthew Lohmeier, commander of 11th Space Warning Squadron at Buckley Air Force Base, who was relieved over comments he made about the Pentagon’s efforts to increase diversity in the ranks and his belief the military is succumbing to “neo-Marxist” ideologies, Air Force Times reported. 

This week: 

  • May 26: 4:30 p.m.: The Senate Armed Services subcommittee on Strategic Forces holds a hearing on Space Force, military space operations, policy and programs.

Sign up to get The Air & Space Brief every Monday morning from Tara Copp, Defense One’s Senior Pentagon Reporter. May 25 marks the 60th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy’s historic 1961 speech pledging to get a man on the moon by 1970. 


From Defense One

Space Force’s First Battle Is With the US Army // Tara Copp: The newest force is relying on Army and Navy transfers to grow. But giving up missions is not in the military’s DNA.

The F-35’s Painful Lessons Must Inform Future Programs // POGO's Dan Grazier: Congress and the Pentagon must question dubious technical requirements, rosy buy-in costs, and optimistic schedule promises.