A new report from the
Congressional Budget Office estimates that it could
cost up to $4.7 billion to launch Space Force, more
than twice what the Department of Defense has
estimated. (Courtesy of United Launch Alliance)
The Department of Defense is pushing back against an
independent estimate claiming that it could cost up to
$4.7 billion in one-time costs to establish a Space
As proposed by the Trump Administration,
the Space Force would be a separate military service
located within the Air Force that would take over many
of the various space-related functions of the other
A My 8 report from the Congressional
Budget Office estimates that the Trump Administration’s
Space Force proposal would be priced anywhere from $1.8
billion to $4.7 billion in one-time start up costs.
That’s significantly more than the
$2 billion the administration says it will cost to
launch Space Force over the next five years.
CBO is a federal agency that provides independent budget
and economic information for Congress.
Department of Defense has pushed back on the CBO’s
figures, as first reported by Space News. In a statement
provided to C4ISRNET, Department of Defense spokesman
Tom Crosson said the CBO estimates were not based on the
department’s specific proposal.
estimates are based on different assumptions than the
DoD’s legislative proposal. The CBO did not consult with
DoD or evaluate the DoD Space Force proposal. The
Department proposed a lean organizational structure for
the Space Force that avoids significant bureaucratic
growth by leveraging existing Air Force capabilities,"
At a May 14 hearing of the House
Commerce committee’s aviation and space subcommittee,
Air Force Space Command Vice Commander Lt. Gen. David D.
Thompson made similar arguments about how Space Force
would be able to take advantage of Air Force
infrastructure to remain efficient.
is (...) efficient because it also capitalizes on the
support and infrastructure and other capabilities the
Air Force already has,” Thompson said. “I think that the
proposal that was put forward by the Department of
Defense is the best course going forward for the
department and the nation."
One explanation for
the disparity between the administration’s estimates and
the CBO’s is the lack of public details available about
what the Space Force would actually look like.
The administration’s current space reform efforts would
also create two other organizations as well as Space
Force: a combatant command, U.S. Space Command and an
agency in charge of space systems development and
acquisition known as the Space Development Agency. The
costs of both of those organizations are included in the
In March, the administration
claimed that it would cost just about $500 million
annually to operate Space Force annually, but the CBO
estimates that a new service located within the Air
Force would cost somewhere between $820 million and $1.3
billion annually. Those figures do not include the
one-time startup costs laid out by CBO, which range from
$1.1 billion to $3 billion, or the costs associated with
establishing and operating Space Command or the Space
The Trump administration’s
2020 budget request calls for $72 million to begin
setting up Space Force. If Congress does decide to
establish Space Force, it would be the first new branch
of the military added since the Air Force was created in