SDA's near-term launch timelines could be delayed if CR continues past February

By Courtney Albon / December 6, 2021 at 2:32 PM

A continuing resolution that extends beyond the current Feb. 18 deadline would likely impact the Space Development Agency's plans to launch the first two tranches of its National Defense Space Architecture, according to the agency's leader.

“A CR through the month of January, we can weather that,” SDA Director Derek Tournear said during a Space Newsevent today. “A CR beyond that will start to have significant impacts unless we can get some kind of anomaly, because that is a major deal when your budget is changing as dramatically as ours.”

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin released a statement today expressing concern about the possibility of a full-year CR, saying the “unprecedented move” would “cause enormous, if not irreparable damage for a wide range of bipartisan priorities.”

For the SDA, a new agency that requested its first-ever procurement funding in FY-22, frozen funding levels mean schedule delays and a loss of early momentum and growth. The agency requested $808 million for research and development in FY-22 and $74 million in procurement to fund launch services and integration for Tranche 0 satellites, which are slated to launch by next October, and initial support for Tranche 1 satellites, which are scheduled for a 2024 launch.

“If we are stuck at the ’21 levels through ’22, that will cause significant slips in . . . clearly Tranche 1 and probably it could impact Tranche 0 as well,” he said.

SDA is working with Congress and the Pentagon comptroller’s office to approve an anomaly for those efforts, Tournear said, noting that “everyone knows this would be such a major impact to delivering these capabilities.”