The Space Force Cuts Corners

Image: USSF

Cut season isn’t ending with NASA: the Space Force’s budget request for FY2025 is ~$600M lower than its last ask for fiscal 2024.

The Pentagon’s newest branch asked for appropriations of $29.6B for the coming year. Here’s how that breaks down:

  • $18.7B for research, development, testing, and engineering
  • $4.3B for procurement
  • $5.2B for operations and maintenance
  • $1.2B for military personnel

Kristyn Jones, who is performing the duties of Air Force second in command, said in a press briefing that “we needed to make some puts and takes and some hard decisions.” The increasing USSF budget over the past few years played into that, as leadership wanted to make sure “that we weren’t going to have any execution issues.”

The budget included some cuts to the Space Force’s experimentation and demonstration funding.

Up to speed: The Space Force is still young and finding its footing within the DoD, but this year’s department has notched a new achievement: “This is our first year in Space Force where we will not actually move over any additional mission capabilities from other services,” Maj. Gen. Mike A. Greiner, the Air Force’s deputy assistant secretary for budget, said on a press call.

Twiddling thumbs: A new budget doesn’t do a whole lot of good until it’s officially signed into law—something that Congress has had a hard time getting done by the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30. Congress passed six of 12 appropriations bills on Friday, including NASA’s. The other half, including defense, still need to be approved by the March 22 deadline to avoid another continuing resolution (CR).

This cycle of CR after CR is particularly troubling for military programs that rely on speed to stay competitive with fast-moving adversaries—meaning, specifically, China.

“We cannot fight with one hand tied behind our back, and we cannot properly compete in this era of great power competition with only a partial deck,” Jones said. “I urge lawmakers to quickly pass all remaining FY 24 appropriations bills and approve our FY 25 budget request on time. That is the best way our lawmakers can serve our department, our service members and our families.”

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