Cover: A Framework for Building a Civil Reserve Space Program

A Framework for Building a Civil Reserve Space Program

Applicability of U.S. Transportation Command’s Commercial Partnership Models

Published Nov 29, 2023

by Yool Kim, George Nacouzi

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The concept of a civil reserve space program, a partnership arrangement that would be akin to the Civil Reserve Air Fleet (CRAF) and Voluntary Intermodal Sealift Agreement (VISA) programs, has recently gained attention as one avenue to build a closer partnership between the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) and the commercial space industry and to gain assured access to commercial space services to augment DoD's space capabilities in times of national emergency or wartime operations.

In this Perspective, the authors examine key elements of the CRAF and VISA programs to inform factors that DoD should consider for a civil reserve space program to balance benefits and risks to both the U.S. Space Force and the commercial sector. Key considerations include the mix of DoD and commercial space capabilities, incentives and acceptable risks for participants of a civil reserve space program, activation terms, and operations in a threat environment.

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This work was commissioned by the U.S. Space Force (USSF) Space Operations Command and conducted within the Force Modernization and Employment Program of RAND Project AIR FORCE.

This commentary is part of the RAND expert insight series. RAND Expert Insights present perspectives on timely policy issues. All RAND Expert Insights undergo peer review to ensure high standards for quality and objectivity.

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