DOD IG plans four oversight projects evaluating space enterprise

By Courtney Albon / November 20, 2020 at 2:26 PM

The Defense Department inspector general's office is planning several oversight efforts involving space programs and operations, including a review of DOD's space testing strategy and an audit of launch facility maintenance efforts.

The four projects are outlined in the IG's department-wide fiscal year 2021 oversight plan, released this week.

The space testing strategy evaluation will consider "the extent to which DOD has developed and implemented a strategy for an integrated test program to validate the survivability of space-based systems in a contested space environment," the report states. The launch maintenance review will assess whether the department's launch facility maintenance efforts are sufficient to meet current and future launch demand.

A third study will compare the current operational capabilities of the Space Force's Space Fence against the original program requirements and consider the implications of not funding a second radar, which officials -- including the Pentagon's top weapons tester -- have said is key to harnessing the full scope of the system’s capabilities.

The IG will also evaluate the highly elliptical orbit element of the Space-Based Infrared System. The evaluation will "assess the Space-Based Infrared System High satellite program for compliance with DOD and U.S. Air Force policy for high-altitude electromagnetic pulse, electronic exploitation and electronic warfare resilience," the report states.

The IG recently completed an audit of the Air Force's certification process for SpaceX's Falcon family of launch vehicles, finding that the service generally met its own compliance while recommending it lift some existing constraints and work with the company to assess reusability.