SpRCO wants mature capabilities for classified systems

By Michael Marrow / October 21, 2022 at 2:12 PM

The Space Rapid Capabilities Office is eschewing technology maturation in favor of well-developed systems for its classified projects, a top official said.

Speaking during the Space Industry Days conference hosted by the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association, SpRCO Senior Materiel Leader Col. Bryon McClain said the office was interested only in fully fledged systems that are ready to deploy.

“We’re not doing tech maturation,” McClain said, since it’s “not something we have a lot of time for.”

For vendors with compelling offers that require greater maturation, McClain suggested that they first partner with an organization like the Air Force Research Laboratory to develop a capability that could be picked up by SpRCO at a later date.

“When tech maturation is done, we're ready to move forward on a program,” he said.

One of three acquisition arms for the Space Force along with Space Systems Command and the Space Development Agency, SpRCO, SDA Director Derek Tournear explained during a roundtable with reporters at the Air and Space Force Association Air, Space and Cyber conference last month, is narrowly focused on procuring “highly classified” prototypes and systems.

The nature of SpRCO’s work can pose challenges for non-traditional vendors, who may lack proper clearance or classified architecture to meet the office’s needs, McClain noted.

Unlike contracts posted publicly to resources like sam.gov, SpRCO relies solely on classified mechanisms to disseminate resources to vendors, such as requests for information. For those without access to classified channels, McClain said SpRCO is partnering with the Space Force’s Spacewerx innovation laboratory to hold virtual, unclassified events for interested companies and can also offer no-cost contracting options.

McClain stated SpRCO is keenly interested in automation so that capabilities can be deployed more quickly, a provision that will likely feature in new contracts.

“We need to have automation capabilities that can allow us to have fewer individuals doing more tasks. And that's one of the biggest lessons that my team has learned so far,” he said, adding that “we're looking at updating that in a lot of our future contracts.”