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HomeDefenseSpace Force wants $187M to 'enhance' its Unified Data Library

Space Force wants $187M to ‘enhance’ its Unified Data Library

A model of the globe, based on NASA imagery. (Getty images)

WASHINGTON — Eyeing upgrades, the Space Force is asking Congress for more than six times the amount of money it wanted last year for its cloud-based data repository and, according to a top service official, will soon ask industry early next fiscal year to figure out how to do so. 

Earlier this week Lisa Costa, chief technology and innovation officer for the Space Force, said that the service will be releasing a request for information in early fiscal 2024 for an “enhanced” version of its Unified Data Library (UDL).

The UDL, Space Systems Command’s a cloud-based repository for space domain awareness, designed to take in data from multiple sources and turn it into one centralized, common picture. Such integration of data from disparate sources is a key goal of the Pentagon’s broader Joint All Domain Command and Control effort. 

Speaking at the AFCEA Space Force IT Day on Tuesday, Costa said the UDL “was built based on the premise that we’re just going to process Space Force data…[but] it’s really the commercial data at scale that we need to combine with the Space Force data.” She added that it’s currently difficult to manage the UDL and that there’s a “backlog” of data waiting to be accessed.

Although Costa did not expand on what exactly an “enhanced” UDL would look like, and a spokesperson declined to elaborate specifically, budget documents outline some things the Space Force has planned for FY24 for the effort. According to the documents [PDF], the Space Force wants $187.37 million for the UDL in FY24, a significant jump from last year’s $29.5 million. 

That funding will be used across a broad range of efforts linked to the UDL, like connecting additional Space Force sensors, “establishing bi-directional data sharing with coalition and allied partners, and increasing cloud hosting services” while also expanding its infrastructure “to maintain digital superiority, support an increased number of customers and operations across multiple security environments.”

The service will also on-board new data sets to the library and expand its “defensive cyber operations capabilities,” the documents say, and connect the UDL to more than 20 “additional Space Surveillance Network (SSN) and non-traditional SDA sensors with modernized interfaces and transport options,” among other things.

“As data ingress and egress grow, a portion of the funds will cover associated cloudhosting costs, data service development, security, system administration, data on boarding, data as a service platform retention, processing, and normalization,” the budget documents say. The funding will also be used by the Space Force to “analyze space warfighting data across the global space enterprise, as well as for Space Force related exercise support, cross-domain solution services and integration of the legacy communications architecture with the UDL.”

The budget documents suggest FY24 will be a key year for the UDL, as the yearly request is more than the $177 million that other documents show the Space Force is expecting to ask for over the next four years combined. 

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