Col. Rich Kniseley, head of Space Systems Command’s Commercial Space Office. (US Air Force photo by Cherie Cullen)

WASHINGTON — The Space Force’s Commercial Space Office (COMSO) now expects to hold its next industry session on its emerging plans for a space version of the Civil Air Reserve, called the Commercial Augmentation Space Reserve (CASR), in August — in hopes of being able to issue first contracts including provisions by the end of the year, according to the director.

Col. Richard Kniseley told the Washington Space Business Roundtable (WSBR) today that his office is “targeting August to have our next CASR industry session. And before that, we will release a number of documents for industry to review and provide comments on across our mission areas.”

The timeline is slightly faster than Kniseley had anticipated in March, when he told Breaking Defense that he expected to have the next CASR industry engagement in September.

“And I am working my darndest right now to release our very first CASR contracts this year. We have a plan to do it,” he told WSBR.

The CASR concept, initiated by Space Systems Command early last year, would see various commercial providers of space data and services voluntarily sign up to provide the Defense Department authority to either set aside some of their capacity or capabilities, or to override other customers’ access to bolster military use, in times of crisis or war. COMSO put forth a first draft framework for industry comment last July, although details were scant.

“We will be building out our strategies for threat sharing, incentives to join CASR and working with the operational community to develop concepts in order to make this a success. We will continue to have conversations with industry, release documents for comment and build more partnerships with government entities. This is a voluntary partnership,” Kniseley elaborated.

Kniseley explained that right now he is “targeting mainly space domain awareness” for the first CASR contracts.

“I think that we will have a call for contracts, potentially through the [space domain awareness] marketplace, and it will be asked, ‘Do you want to be a CASR company?’” he said. If so, then contracts would be “negotiated” with each firm that contain special provisions known as H-clauses under DoD contracting law.

“I expect it to be some really good learning, because we’ve never done this before,” Kniseley said. But I hope it to be a repeatable process across the other mission areas, knowing that each mission area is going to be different. The H-clauses for SATCOM [satellite communications] will not be the same H-clauses for space domain awareness or [surveillance, reconnaissance and tracking], or any of those other ones.”