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The first SBIRS-High satellite was launched in 2011—nine years behind schedule. The SBIRS constellation eventually will comprise four satellites in stationary geosynchronous orbit.

Delays and cost overruns in military and spy satellite programs are well known, and things aren’t getting any better, according to a March 29 report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office.

The spiraling cost of launching spacecraft is another challenge facing the community. Less talked about are the ground segments of space programs. The Defense Department has a long-standing problem synchronizing the development of terminals and ground control stations to satellite launch dates. The result is satellites that are operating under capacity.

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