WASHINGTON — U.S. Space Force leadership is confident the new service’s budget will increase in the coming years as the Pentagon continues to prioritize spending on space systems, according to the head of the Space Force’s main acquisitions body.

“If you thought space was going to be a priority in a kind of one-and-done way, that’s not clearly what’s been happening, right?” Lt. Gen. John Thompson, commander of the Space and Missile Systems Center, said during the virtual 6th annual Schriever Space Futures Forum. “So three years in a row budgets have gone to the Hill with foundational changes to the space budget.”

That’s despite the fact that space systems and their supporting equipment are very expensive.

The Space Force list of unfunded priorities includes $1 billion in spending above their official $15 billion budget request. (U.S. Air Force)

“ Everybody knows the space enterprise is a really expensive one, even with the reductions in cost that we’ve seen over the past couple decades. Launch services, space vehicles, ground segments — everybody knows they ain’t cheap, right?” Thompson said.

The real shift in prioritizing spending on space came with the fiscal 2019 budget request, with the Pentagon declaring space a war-fighting domain.

“I think we made some real progress. As we acknowledged space as a war-fighting domain, we had some really strong shifts in the budget,” Thompson said.

For fiscal 2021, the Department of the Air Force requested $15.4 billion for the new Space Force. That’s $800 million more than the $14.6 billion the department requested for that same enterprise in fiscal 2020, according to the Air Force’s own calculations.

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