DOD Space Systems: Additional Knowledge Would Better Support Decisions about Disaggregating Large Satellites
GOVERNMENT ACCOUNTABILITY OFFICE WASHINGTON DC
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Why GAO Did This Study. Fiscal constraints and growing threats to space systems have led DOD to consider alternatives for acquiring space-based capabilities, including disaggregating large satellites into multiple, smaller satellites or payloads see graphic. A Senate Armed Services Committee report mandated GAO to assess the potential benefits and drawbacks of disaggregation and examine if it offers decreased costs and increased survivability for selected DOD satellite systems. This report 1 describes potential benefits and limitations of disaggregation, and 2 assesses the extent to which DOD is ready to make informed decisions regarding disaggregating these systems. GAO reviewed documents and interviewed officials from over 35 offices within DOD, civilian agencies, contractors, and third parties to compile a list of factors relating to potential impacts of disaggregation. GAO used these factors, along with prior GAO work on best practices and space acquisitions, as criteria for evaluating DOD s work to date on assessing disaggregation. What GAO Recommends. Before making decisions to disaggregate DOD space systems, DOD should 1 comprehensively examine the full range of potential effects of disaggregation, 2 develop common measures for resilience, and 3 expand demonstration efforts to examine the operational feasibility of disaggregation. DOD concurred with the first two recommendations and partially concurred with the third. GAO continues to believe DOD should demonstrate the operational feasibility of disaggregation.
- Unmanned Spacecraft