NEWTOWN, Conn. --- After early success, the U.S. Air Force tried for three years to terminate funding and close the office, while Congress favored the program. During the ensuing disagreement, funding declined from $108 million in FY12 to $20 million in FY15.
Congress eventually prevailed, ensuring the program's survival. The Air Force now appears to support the office, and has requested $87.6 million for the program in FY18. The ORS office will now focus on designing and building satellites that will fill gaps in the Air Force's meteorological and space surveillance fleets until more capable replacements can be designed and built.
The ORS program funds a number of Air Force satellite and launch efforts. While all satellite are smaller than traditional Air Force spacecraft, ORS satellites do range in size. Larger satellites, such as the ORS-1 and ORS-5, are funded alongside significantly smaller satellites, such as CubeSats.
CubeSats have not gained as much popularity in the military as they have in commercial and civil government markets. Nevertheless, they are still used to develop new technologies and practice new techniques. The Air Force primarily uses ORS to fund opportunities for CubeSat development.
With the debates between Congress and the Air Force over, ORS is expected to continue to receive funding well into the future. ORS will fund and develop technology-development, quick-reaction, and gap-filler satellites. Of particular importance are gap-filler weather satellites and space situational awareness satellites.