Space Systems Command Targets 2026 for Key Resilience Goals

  • Published
  • By Linda Kane, SSC Public Affairs
As outlined by Secretary of the Air Force Frank Kendall, defining a resilient and effective space order of battle and architecture is a top operational imperative driven by the actions of pacing challengers and recent geopolitical events. In the race to resilience, Space Systems Command (SSC) has established 2026 as a key target for achieving critical near-term goals.
Why 2026? SSC leadership explains that this timeline is necessary to keep U.S. space capabilities ahead of any adversary looking to disrupt our assets on orbit. The 2026 deadline also acknowledges the evolving geopolitical landscape, the rising awareness of vulnerabilities, and the intent of bad actors who desire to prevent space from being accessible to all.
To underscore the urgency behind the 2026 push, SSC installed countdown to resilience clocks throughout its main campus in El Segundo, California. Additionally, the command has instituted mandatory threat briefings for all personnel.
“We know what our pacing challengers and near peer adversaries are doing and what they may be able to do in the near future,” said Col. Richard Kniseley, chief of enterprise requirements at SSC’s Space Systems Integration Office. “Every day at SSC, we are applying that knowledge to the decisions we make and the capabilities that we are delivering to the warfighter.”
To meet its 2026 goals, SSC will lean heavily on the first two thirds of its ‘exploit what we have, buy what we can, build only what we must’ operational strategy.
‘Exploit what we have’ leverages current space architecture in new and creative ways to push more, or even new, capability from existing assets to support the warfighter and the nation in case those systems are needed in a “fight tonight” scenario. One highly anticipated event is the upcoming demonstration of Tactically Responsive Space (TacRS), a key enabler to responding to a real threat with an operationally relevant capability within operationally relevant timelines. This mission, titled Victus Nox (Latin for conquer the night), will demonstrate the ability to put new capability on orbit within a 24 hour turn time.
‘Buy what we can’ taps into the already booming global commercial space industry.
“There is a lot of innovation out there today that we can tap into much more quickly than with the traditional model of building from scratch,” said Kniseley. “The use of commercial cubesat technology to enable multiple payloads is just one of many examples where industry partnership is accelerating the pace of innovation.”
Kniseley noted that there is also tremendous opportunity to deliver faster through the purchase of commercial services. Already, the DoD taps into SATCOM as a service to the tune of $2 billion per year.
“We’re also making great strides in commercial space domain awareness and incorporating that into our joint operations center,” said Kniseley.
Adjacent industries are also playing a key role in SSC’s race to resilience. In May, SSC will hold a Reverse Industry Day focused on artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) for space analytics. These sectors are projected to grow by 38% annually between now and 2030. With the multitude of space data, both commercial and DoD-unique, being collected daily, leveraging innovation from a booming AI and ML industry space will be critical to meeting both near- and long-term goals.
From optimizing current capabilities to buying from industry and partnering with allies, SSC has its eye on the clock and is on pace to meet its 2026 goals.