The fiscal year 2021 budget request for the Space Development Agency shows that the Trump administration is intent on pursuing its vision for a new satellite architecture, according to one expert.
The new organization's first budget appropriation in 2020 was just $30 million. But President Donald Trump's blueprint for 2021 includes $337 million for the SDA. More importantly, it allots more than $7 billion across the future years defense program, according to Todd Harrison, director of the aerospace security project and defense budget analysis at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
The SDA has ambitious plans for multiple layers of low-Earth orbit satellites. The initial tranche, scheduled for 2022, will include several dozen systems. The next two tranches are planned for 2024 and 2026, respectively. Additional tranches will go up every two years. The architecture will eventually include thousands of spacecraft, with systems designed to last five years before needing to be replaced, SDA Director Derek Tournear told reporters shortly before the 2021 budget rollout.
Tournear estimated that each satellite would cost about $10 million.
Harrison said the new budget proposal sent a clear signal.
"What I was looking for is: are they going to put significant funding over the [future years defense program] into the SDA's budget to show they're serious about building these proliferated LEO constellations?" he said. "The unambiguous answer is 'yes.'"