The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for the Fiscal Year 2022 was enacted by the Senate on December 15 with 89-10 bipartisan support. The bill was approved by the House on December 7 by a vote of 363 to 70. The National Defense Authorization Act is now on its way to President Biden’s desk to be enacted into law. In the fiscal year 2022, the NDAA funds $740 billion for Defense Department, nearly $25 billion more than the Biden administration requested.
The Space Force as well as the space industry will be interested in the following provisions:
There will be no Space National Guard. The House had originally proposed creating a Space National Guard to serve as a reserve arm of the United States Space Force. The Senate and the Biden administration were both against the measure. The NDAA still mandates the Department of Defense to investigate possibilities for establishing a reserve unit for the Space Force.
Review of space program classification. The NDAA instructs the Department of Defense to assess all Space Force projects to see whether any of them could be classified at a lower level or even declassified outright.
The Department of Defense intends to purchase services from the non-GEO satellites. The Pentagon is needed to brief Congress on the military’s use of commercial satellite communications services, notably those provided by satellites in non-geostationary orbit. The provision is in response to the US military’s rising demand for high-speed internet, notably onboard Navy ships as well as other locations where terrestrial telecom is inaccessible and satellite signals are the only option.
Space Development Agency (SDA). By March 31, 2022, the Secretary in charge of the Air Force must provide a report on how the SDA will be realigned into the Space Force. SDA’s aim, according to the bill, is to establish a simplified chain of command so that it can meet its satellite deployment and launch deadlines.
National Security Space Launch. The NDAA requires a report from the intelligence community and Department of Defense on measures to increase competition and innovation in the US Space Force’s NSSL program, as well as a plan for future investments in space access, mobility, and logistics technology.
Tactically responsive launch. The law orders the intelligence community and Department of Defense (DoD) to help the strategically responsive launch plan, that Congress created two years ago to give commercial small-satellite launch firms with launch opportunities. The Department of Defense is required to submit a statement on future intentions to invest in the launch providers which can provide rapid response services in the event of an emergency or conflict.