With the growing list of actors in the space domain – across industry and government in the U.S. and worldwide – competition is intensifying and rapid technological innovation is needed to achieve and sustain dominance over adversarial forces and other global powers.
“Space is not a benign environment, and our old ways won’t keep up,” said Brig. Gen. Steve Whitney, military deputy at the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Space Acquisition and Integration, during the recent Space Acquisition Forum hosted by GovCon Wire Events.
Lt. Gen. Michael Guetlein, commander of Space Systems Command, in the same forum, said, “What keeps me up at night is not [China’s] booming economy, it’s the capabilities they are developing and the ones that they’re putting on orbit.”
In response to the increasing volatility and unpredictability in today’s space environment, U.S. space agencies have undergone transformational reorganizations, and the Pentagon is placing a high priority on acquisition reform and the adoption of innovative, dual-use technologies to close the country’s critical capability gaps and thwart pacing challenges in space.
In September, the Department of Defense launched its new program, National Security Innovation Capital, which supports startups that are developing hardware and technologies that have both federal and commercial uses.
“Funding innovative dual-use technology to improve national security is critical in our nation’s strategic competition with China and providing the best technology for our military,” said Michael Brown, director of the Defense Innovation Unit.
Defense agencies are also targeting commercial satellites and space architecture for military, intelligence and combat applications.
The Space Defense Agency plans to deploy 144 low-Earth orbit satellites by 2024 as part of a transport layer envisioned to form a mesh network and result in initial warfighting capability. The SDA plans to achieve global coverage by launching 28 tracking layer satellites within the following year.
Along the same mission goals, the Air Force Research Laboratory looks at commercial technology for improved intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance initiatives. AFRL recently tapped HawkEye 360 to demonstrate its hybrid space ISR architecture. The company currently has nine satellites in orbit and plans to launch an additional seven clusters of satellites capable of delivering radio frequency data and analytics in support of federal and commercial missions.
Maxar Technologies also has its own constellation of Earth imaging satellites, for which the company recently won $100 million across three agreements to continue delivering satellite imagery to defense and intelligence customers. Currently, Maxar is the main supplier of the National Reconnaissance Office’s satellite imagery.
In December 2021, Maxar was also selected to develop a pair of robotic arms for the DIU to advance in-space assembly capabilities.
To learn more about the development, deployment and acquisition of technologies that have both military and commercial applications in the space domain, join ExecutiveBiz Events for the platform’s Dual-Use Technology in Space Defense Forum on Feb. 15.
William Nelson, director of the U.S. Army’s Assured Position, Navigation and Timing Cross Functional Team, will keynote the forum to discuss how dual-use technologies can help synchronize space capabilities across DOD agencies and better position the country for global competition.
Register now for the Dual-Use Technology in Space Defense Forum on Feb. 15.