November 9, 2019
The Worldwide Threat Assessment of the U.S. Intelligence Community in February 2018 indicated that “Adversaries and malign actors will use all instruments of national power—including information and cyber means—to shape societies and markets, international rules and institutions, and international hot spots to their advantage,” and that “China and Russia will seek spheres of influence and to check US appeal and influence in their regions.”
There are few greater spheres of influence than the areas of space inhabited by numerous orbiting assets of nation-state, non-state, and commercial space organizations for services and information, such as “imagery, weather, communications, and positioning, navigation, and timing for intelligence, military, scientific, or business purposes.”
In August 2018, Vice President Mike Pence spoke to a Pentagon audience about the Future of the U.S. Military in Space, and described the uncertainty surrounding space capabilities being developed by foreign nations. He said, “Our adversaries have been working to bring new weapons of war into space itself. In 2007, China launched a missile that tracked and destroyed one of its own satellites — a highly provocative demonstration of China’s growing capability to militarize space.
“Russia has been designing an airborne laser to disrupt our space-based system. And it claims to be developing missiles that can be launched from an aircraft mid-flight to destroy American satellites.
“Both China and Russia have been conducting highly sophisticated on-orbit activities that could enable them to maneuver their satellites into close proximity of ours, posing unprecedented new dangers to our space systems.”
This specific public acknowledgement of this space protection problem (also see CHALLENGES TO SECURITY IN SPACE – Defense Intelligence Agency) was an important moment for our nation. In response to these concerns, the United States established several new organizations; specifically, United States Space Command (USSPACECOM), and Joint Task Force-Space Defense (JTF-SD). JTF-SD is one of two subordinate commands to USSPACECOM which was recently formed with a mission to conduct, in unified action with mission partners, space superiority operations to deter aggression, defend capability, and defeat adversaries throughout the continuum of conflict. JTF-SD executes its protect and defend mission through its operations center, the National Space Defense Center, space domain awareness units and emerging space defense units.
Continuity of Operations and Space Protection & Resiliency are an important focus that will help ensure the long-term physical and cyber security of our nation and its allies. At Stellar Solutions, we believe that the space environment is at a critical juncture where we need to do more than “move the needle” – we must transcend our space protection capabilities to “capture the high ground” and ensure the security of national assets ahead of threats. Stellar Solutions has placed increased emphasis on this critical mission domain with associated resources made available through our pool of exemplary subject matter experts.
All of this is a fundamental part of enabling clients to innovate successfully–providing deep industry knowledge through nimble, handpicked teams of strategists, systems and aerospace engineers, and technical specialists. These best practices are based on a committed focus on the critical needs of customers including the Department of Defense and other key Government agencies, and providing instrumental support in this vital mission area over the past 10 years. Embracing Agile methodologies and supporting accelerated fulfillment of products and processes facilitates the delivery of high-impact performance on Earth and in space. As the Vice President noted, there are countless individuals within military, civilian and commercial organizations striving to maintain and secure the nation’s space systems. Working together to combine this diverse expertise will enable the nation to successfully “confront the emerging threats in the boundless expanse of space”.
About the authors:
- Walt Eilers is Vice President, Intel, at Stellar Solutions, Inc. He served almost 23 years in the United States Air Force, with over 38 years leading space and ground intelligence and communication system programs. Walt leads a diverse team providing Acquisition, System Engineering and Integration, Command and Control, and Ops support to major space and ground systems. He also oversees Intel business development and resource management for Stellar.
- Dave Rose is a Senior Systems Engineer for Stellar Solutions and a recognized space protection expert. Dave supports critical missions for Intel customers and is at the forefront of delivering key technical advice to the space community.