Carter: Pentagon Budget Will Do 'Even More' for Space Protection

U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter
U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter said Feb. 2 the Pentagon's 2017 budget includes "even more" funding for space protection than the $5.5 billion investment the department outlined last year. (Image credit: Army Sgt. 1st Class Clydell Kinchen)

WASHINGTON –  The White House's 2017 budget request will build on the Pentagon's $5.5 billion initiative to protect national security satellites in space, U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said Feb. 2

Last year, the Defense Department said it shifted $5.5 billion over five years to improve space surveillance and bolster the Air Force's ability to protect military satellites from potential Russian or Chinese attacks.

Speaking to the Economic Club of Washington, Carter previewed the Defense Department's $582 billion budget request for fiscal year 2017 and highlighted the emphasis on space.

"Last year we added over $5 billion in new investments to make us better postured," Carter said, according to a transcript of his remarks. "And then in 2017 we're doing even more, enhancing our ability to identify, attribute and negate all threatening actions in space."

The White House is expected to release its 2017 budget request Feb. 9. Carter did not specify how much more money the 2017 budget would include for space protection. [Military in Space: Latest Missions, News and Tech]

Defense Department leaders have been increasingly concerned in recent years about what they see as space threats from China and Russia. Although much of the space protection money in last year's budget was expected to be set aside for classified programs, Air Force officials say some of that money will go toward the space-object tracking radar known as the Space Fence and major upgrade to the Joint Space Operations Center, which manages a catalog of known space objects and unofficially serves as the world's space traffic cop.

In addition, Air Force leaders say a key tenet of the space protection program is to counter the space capabilities of U.S. adversaries.

"There are some in this world … who see America's dominance in these and other areas and want to take that away from us in the future so that we can't operate effectively around the globe," Carter said. "So we're not waiting to invest until the threats are fully realized.  We're investing now so we stay ahead of them."

This story was provided by SpaceNews, dedicated to covering all aspects of the space industry.

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Editor-in-Chief, Sightline Media

Mike Gruss is a veteran defense reporter and Editor-in-Chief of Sightline Media Group, which includes Army Times, Air Force Times, Dense News, Military Times and Navy Times. From 2013 to 2016, Mike served as a Senior Staff Writer for SpaceNews covering national security space programs and military space policy in the U.S. Congress. Mike earned a bachelor's degree in English and American Studies from Miami University and has previously wrote for the Journal Gazette in Fort Wayne, Indiana and the Virginian-Pilot in Virginia before joining SpaceNews. Prior to joining Sightline in 2017, he was a senior editor of FedTech magazine covering technology in federal government. You can see Mike's latest project on Twitter.