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Military Space Systems: DOD's Use of Commercial Satellites to Host Defense Payloads Would Benefit from Centralizing Data
Each year, DOD spends billions of dollars to develop, produce, and field large, complex satellites. For such satellite systems, a single adversary attack or on-orbit failure can result in the loss of billions of dollars of investment and significant loss of vital capabilities. As DOD plans new space systems and addresses an increasingly contested space environment, it has the opportunity to consider different acquisition approaches. One such approach is to integrate a government sensor or payload onto a commercial host satellite. House Armed Services Committee report 115-200, accompanying a bill for the Fiscal Year 2018 National Defense Authorization Act, included a provision for GAO to review DOD's use of commercially hosted payloads. This report (1) determines the extent to which DOD uses commercially hosted payloads and (2) describes and assesses factors that affect their use. GAO reviewed DOD policies, documentation, and planning documents, and interviewed a wide range of DOD and civil government officials, and commercial stakeholders.
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