NATO space policy: Article 5 and a new space race.
Deconfliction for low-earth orbit.
GPS III is up.
Space Force's budget, organization, roles, and missions.
Commercial space services.
NATO space policy, and a recognition of the importance of arms control.
The NATO summit that concluded on June 14th addressed the space domain and outlined the Atlantic Alliance's understanding of space conflict. In particular, it reaffirmed the importance of space and outlined the ways in which NATO might invoke Article Five (collective defense) in response to aggression in space. The relevant passage of the communiqué reads as follows:
"We recognise the growing importance of space for the security and prosperity of our nations and for NATO's deterrence and defence. Secure access to space services, products, and capabilities is essential for the conduct of the Alliance's operations, missions and activities. We will accelerate our work to deepen and expand our use of space as an operational domain, including through the NATO Space Centre in Germany and the upcoming establishment of the Space Centre of Excellence in France, which we welcome. We will strengthen NATO's space domain awareness and better integrate space in our activities, including training and exercises, resilience, and innovation efforts. Consistent with the Overarching Space Policy, NATO's approach to space will remain fully in line with international law. We support the international efforts to promote responsible behaviour in space. We consider that attacks to, from, or within space present a clear challenge to the security of the Alliance, the impact of which could threaten national and Euro-Atlantic prosperity, security, and stability, and could be as harmful to modern societies as a conventional attack. Such attacks could lead to the invocation of Article 5. A decision as to when such attacks would lead to the invocation of Article 5 would be taken by the North Atlantic Council on a case-by-case basis."
The summit's deliberations also prompted speculation, Defense News reports, that NATO was working out the role it would play in what amounts to a renewed space race with Russia, China, and, arguably, other emerging spacefaring powers.
In the US, Air Force Magazine reports that senior officers have expressed concerns to Congress that the space domain receive adequate consideration in any future arms control negotiations.
Deconfliction for low earth orbit.
Quartz describes the challenges involved in deconflicting low earth orbit. The commercial constellations being put in place by operators like SpaceX and OneWeb are sharpening concerns that there's a growing need for orbital traffic control. The congestion feared includes not only physical collisions, but electromagnetic interference, and litigation about satellite-delivered Internet connectivity is already in progress.
The upgraded GPS constellation now has the ability to deliver, via its fifth-generation satellites, resilient M-code signals, regarded, WIRED reports, as representing a significant upgrade in terms of security and reliability.
Space Force's budget, with implications for roles and missions.
US Space Force requested an additional $832 million in funds for FY 2022, Breaking Defense reports. The unfunded priorities include $279 million for unspecified classified programs and $113 million for new missions, including deep space surveillance and tactical ISR for the Air Force. (Tactical ISR didn't meet with general Congressional favor.) Breaking Defense says the ask was broken into the following categories:
"Protect & Sustain What We Have Today: $225 million. This includes facilities maintenance and improvements, as well as $26 million to 'Fix UEWR funding for Upgraded Early Warning Radar 24/7 Operations.'
"Evolve To More Resilient Architectures: $63 million. Included is $50 million for communications security, 'cyber defense platforms' and digitization efforts.
"Develop A Warfighting Punch: $431 million. Despite the sexy name, this grouping largely covers training and education rather than offensive weaponry — at least as far as we can see. This is where the $279 million in 'masked' classified efforts is slotted. (Hmmm. [sic])
"Grow New Missions: $113 million. The most intriguing of these are: a $70 million request to accelerate demonstration of cislunar (the area beyond the Earth's orbit to that of the Moon) and deep space domain awareness satellites; and $28 million to expand DARPA's Blackjack satellite payloads to include a radio frequency geolocation system for use by the Air Force."
C4ISR wraps up the request with a summary: tactical ISR and cislunar situational awareness are the two big-ticket mission areas.
As the new Service grows in 2022, its leaders hope, Air Force Magazine reports, to build a culture and operationalize its structure, and the Delta organizations will play a prominent role in doing both. C4ISRNet sees the Deltas as playing a particularly important role in achieving and maintaining a high launch tempo.
Looking more generally at procurement, Space Force has shown a marked preference for using Other Transaction Authorities (OTAs) as a means of accelerating technology into the hands of its operators. C4ISRNet regards the Space and Missile Systems Center's second Space Enterprise Consortium (SpEC) agreement as a bellwether. The SpEC combined a large, $12 billion, ceiling, with heavy use of OTAs.
Commercial service and a uniformed Service.
Space Systems Command will establish a single office responsible for procuring commercial services. These will include such services as satellite communications and overhead imagery, C4ISRNet says.
The newly renamed Vandenberg Space Force Base plans, Air Force Magazine writes, to establish a "commercial space enterprise zone" on the California coast installation. Part of the goal will be increased launch capacity. Both Vandenberg and its sister facility, Patrick Space Force Base on Florida's Cape Canaveral, are seeking to reinvent themselves along familiar lines: they'd like to become more like airports.
Some of that additional capacity may be procured through Space Force's Space Safari acquisition program office, designed to focus in particular on urgent launch needs, Breaking Defense reports.
Some are concerned that safety may not be adequately provided for as commercial launch services become more prevalent. United Launch Alliance, for one, thinks that the current penalties for violating the safety provisions of FAA launch licenses, presently capped at $100 thousand, are simply too low to properly incentivize range safety.
Will the real Tony Stark please stand up?
Jeff Bezos is moving to pass Elon Musk in the 'Who's your Tony Stark?' sweepstakes. The Wall Street Journal reports that Mr. Bezos and his brother will be aboard the New Shepard when it carries its first passengers aloft on July 20th. Two other passengers will join them, and one seat has, Space.com reports, already sold at auction for $28 million.
The dark horse in this particular race is probably Richard Branson, who according to ABC News has not said when or whether he intends to ride Virgin Galactic's passenger-carrying craft on its own inaugural flight. But he's at least teasing a flight. "All I can say is when the engineers tell me that I can go to space, I'm ready, fit and healthy to go," Mr. Branson said. His company may be getting close. On June 25th the US Federal Aviation Administration cleared Virgin Galactic's license to carry passengers on suborbital flights, Space.com reports.
So, if they ride the New Shepard or Virgin Galactic in a suborbital flight, will that make them astronauts? Business Insider says it depends, because what counts as "space" is a little vague, and open to competing interpretations. Blue Origin for its part says they'll cross the Kármán Line, and that's where space begins. The Fédération Aéronautique Internationale places the Kármán line at 100 kilometers (62 miles, 330,000 feet) above mean sea level. The US Air Force and NASA use 50 miles (that's about 80 kilometers) as the boundary. And in any case there are periodic attempts made to raise or lower the boundary. Theodor von Kármán arrived at his line while working out the highest altitude at which aerodynamic flight would remain possible. Anything above that would be space, where you'd need, for example, reaction control systems as opposed to control surfaces to direct your craft.
No word from Mr. Musk, yet, on whether he'll be riding a SpaceX ship in the near future. WIRED has an account of the risks involved in passenger spaceflight. Not as risky as the early days of Project Mercury or Vostok, but still, with rockets you're never 100% sure.
You may not be interested in extraterrestrial life, but what if extraterrestrial life were interested in you?
Where would you look for aliens? Beyond the obvious places, like Marfa, Texas, or US Navy gun camera footage, or Whitley Strieber's upstate New York cabin, of course. MIT Technology Review ranks the likeliest ET habitats in our solar system. Maybe Mars, maybe Venus, maybe one of the moons of Jupiter or Saturn.
The US Government is in the process of releasing an unclassified version of a report on unidentified aerial phenomena, UFOs, in the popular lingo. The New York Times summarizes the findings as inconclusive: there's no evidence of alien craft, but on the other hand the possibility can't be ruled out, either. People have found some of the released video interesting and hard to explain, Military Times writes. But few parties to the debate over whether the saucers are here will be convinced from their positions. It must be noted that it's difficult to recognize many mundane things in the sky, as anyone who's watched the night launch of a weather balloon can attest, and investigators haven't ruled out foreign experiments with hypersonic craft, either. And, of course, Harvard's Avi Loeb speculates that we really shouldn't rule out the possibility that 'Oumuamua might be scanning our own corner of the cosmos for alien life, which, from 'Oumuamua's point of view, would be us.
If you believe in the wisdom of crowds and markets, at least one exchange traded fund (ETF) is at least pretending to take extraterrestrial visitations seriously. The Procure Space ETF (ticker symbol UFO) has added a risk disclosure to its prospectus: unidentified aerial phenomena "could create unintentional or deliberate operational, data security, 'cyber' and other interference with the operation of satellites and other objects in space."
Today's edition of the CyberWire reports events affecting .
Monitoring cyberspace activity in space(Federal News Network) When you think of space, you don't think of it as the frontline of cyber war, but that's not the case. Many important aspects of U.S. critical infrastructure are controlled from space…
Houthi 'Terror' Scuds Now Threaten Most Of Saudi Arabia(Breaking Defense) A new variant of the Houthi's Burkan missile has a range of at least 1,200 km, putting almost all of Saudi Arabia within range of the Northern Yemeni rebels, posing a new threat to the kingdom. Ansar Allah, as the Houthis are formally known, released footage in August 2019 of a new ballistic missile, called…
Iranian Nuke Centrifuge Plant Badly Damaged By Drones(Breaking Defense) Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett appeared to hint Thursday -- the day after the attack -- that Israel may have been involved when he spoke to a graduating ceremony for Israeli Air Force pilots: "Our enemies know — not from statements, but from actions — that we are much more determined and much more clever, and that we do not hesitate to act when it is needed."
NGA posts Security Engineering RFI(Intelligence Community News) The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) posted a security engineering request for information (RFI).
NGA seeks data science platform(Intelligence Community News) The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency posted a request for information (RFI) for a data science platform.
Thales Alenia Space and Telespazio Win Italian Deal to Develop SICRAL 3(Via Satellite) Thales Alenia Space and Telespazio have won a new contract with the Italian Ministry of Defence, the two companies announced June 16. The contract is for the development of the SICRAL 3 secure satellite communications system, including its ground segment. Covering the development of phases B and C, the contract is
Leidos' Dynetics scores $90M NASA contract(Virginia Business) Dynetics Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Reston-based Fortune 500 government contractor Leidos Holdings Inc., has received a potential $90 million contract from NASA to produce a laser air monitoring system (LAMS) for the agency's Orion spacecraft, beginning with the Artemis III mission, which plans to return astronauts to the lunar surface for the first…
Palantir Strengthens Ties with U.S Space Force(CTOvision) Palantir Technologies (PLTR) has expanded its strategic partnership with the U.S. Space Force and U.S. Air Force, proving its ability to offer cutting-edge technologies. As part of the new deal, the company will provide software for powering advanced critical missions. Palantir is a software company specializing in big data analytics. Additionally, Palantir will use its Data-as-a-Service
Booz Allen Hamilton wins $674M DOD contract(Virginia Business) McLean-based Fortune 500 global management consulting company Booz Allen Hamilton Inc. was awarded a five-year, $674 million contract from the General Services Administration to maintain and support the growth of the Department of Defense's Advana data analytics platform. "In response to increasingly advanced threats from global adversaries, the Department of Defense has placed a clear…
Microsoft joins Space ISAC to support cybersecurity(SpaceNews) Microsoft announced plans June 23 to join the Space Information Sharing and Analysis Center (ISAC), an organization focused on collecting, analyzing and disseminating information on vulnerabilities, incidents and threats.
The Contract To Develop The SICRAL 3 Defense SATCOM System Won By Thales Alenia Space + Telespazio(SatNews) Thales Alenia Space, the joint venture between Thales (67%) and Leonardo (33%), and Telespazio, the joint venture between Leonardo (67%) and Thales (33%), have signed a contract with the Italian Ministry of Defense, represented by TELEDIFE / Secretariat General of Defense, for the development of the SICRAL 3 secure satellite communications system, including its ground segment. Covering the development of phases B and C1, the contract is worth a total of approximately €159 million, as result of an articulated and complete negotiation process.
U.S. Space Force clears reused SpaceX rocket for launch with GPS satellite(Space Flight Now) Following years of planning, a GPS navigation satellite built by Lockheed Martin will be the first operational U.S. military payload to ride a reused SpaceX booster on a launch from Florida Thursday, laying the groundwork for future national security missions to save money by incorporating recycled rocket parts.
CYBERCOM: Navy-Marine Integration Must Extend Across the Cyber Realm to Protect Weapons Systems, Data(USNI News) The Navy and Marine Corps must be prepared to handle cyber attacks like the recent attack embedded in routine software updates on thousands of government and business networks, said the nation's top cybersecurity official. "Continuing Navy-Marine Corps integration must account for the information environment, especially adversary intrusions, information operations and next-gen cryptography," Army Gen. Paul …
GPS III Launch Will Provide Global M-Code(Breaking Defense) "OCX and the user equipment piece do not come online until the third quarter of 2023; that is when we would expect to have our initial operational capability for the GPS enterprise across across all segments: space, ground and user equipment," said Space and Missile Command's Col. Ed Byrne.
Crew starts making China's new space station their home(AP NEWS) Three Chinese astronauts have begun making China's new space station their home for the next three months, after their launch and arrival at the station Thursday marked further advances in the country's ambitious space program.
Pentagon: Diversify Your Orbital Regimes(Breaking Defense) Even with the establishment of Space Force, space-based capabilities are primarily supporting terrestrial operations. Looking to the other recognized warfighting domains to redundant capabilities and interoperability will enhance architectural resilience.
US, 6 Other Countries Back Arqit-Led Satellite Quantum Cybersecurity Alliance(ExecutiveBiz) London-based cybersecurity company Arqit has launched a consortium of public and private sector organizations from seven countries, including the U.S., in an effort to bring satellite-based quantum encryption technology to the worldwide government sector.The new alliance -- which has representatives from the U.K., Canada, Japan, Austria, Belgium and Italy -- centers on the Federated Quantum
MDA Sees EW, Cyber For Future Missile Defense(Breaking Defense) "The future will be a mix of kinetic and non-kinetic. It will be a mix of hard kill and soft kill, because of where the threat is going to. The threat will drive us to do something different," says Vice Adm. Jon Hill, who heads the Missile Defense Agency.
GA conducts space-to-air experiment(Intelligence Community News) General Atomics Electromagnetic Systems (GA-EMS) announced that it was awarded a contract by the Space Development Agency to demonstrate space-to-air optical communication.
Costs Plunge So 'Rocket Cargo' To Battlefield Takes Off(Breaking Defense) If industry can "turn this into a human transport mechanism -- which some of the companies are talking about doing -- sure the DoD would be interested in exploring options for that, just as we do with the airlines, and the shipping industries today,"AFRL's Program Manager Greg Spanjers said.
Pentagon Envisions Using Cargo Rockets(Wall Street Journal) The military has revived plans to use commercial rockets such as those being developed by SpaceX to deliver supplies to military hot spots.
Possible First Use of AI-Armed Drones Triggers Alarm Bells(Voice of America) Western military experts are assessing whether an autonomous drone operated by artificial intelligence, or AI, killed people — in Libya last year — for the first time without a human controller directing it remotely to do so.
A Space Force Academy? Raymond Weighs In(Air Force Magazine) Chief of Space Operations Gen. John W. "Jay" Raymond and Senator Tommy Tuberville discussed the idea of a Space Force Academy at a recent hearing.
ULA CEO Calls For Bigger 'Penalties' For Unsafe Space Operations(Breaking Defense) WASHINGTON: Hot on the heels of an agreement between the Air Force and the FAA to streamline regulations on space launches from military ranges, the head of one of the biggest US launch providers has called for penalizing companies that violate the safety clauses of FAA launch licenses. "The regulations that FAA applies, and the licensing…
Official Details DOD Missile Defense Strategy(U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE) The Defense Department will review its missile defense policies, strategies and capabilities to ensure the U.S. has effective missile defenses, the deputy assistant secretary of defense for nuclear
SecDef OKs JADC2 Strategy: Now OSD Has 'Teeth'(Breaking Defense) Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has signed the strategy guiding the massive effort to knit troopers on the front lines to F-35s, submarines, satellites, ships and commanders across the globe, known as Joint All Domain Command and Control.
DoD Seeks $2.3B To Bolster US Chip Making(Breaking Defense) "From the DoD's perspective, they're highly dependent on [Asia] for fabrication and packaging [of chips]," Hudson Institute's Bryan Clark tells Breaking Defense. This has led to DoD calls to address a "fragile and threatened" chip supply chain.
Pentagon announces missile defense review(UPI) The Defense Department will undertake a missile defense review in coming months to correlate its needs against rising nuclear powers, a Pentagon official said.
MDA Director Sees New Space Investment(Breaking Defense) "What we don't want to do is launch a weapon that then opens a seeker and there's nothing there, because the target has maneuvered," Vice Adm. Jon Hill, said.
The Space Force wins with OTAs(C4ISRNET) While the government has at its disposal a variety of contracting tools, other transaction authorities offer some unique advantages, according to a program leader.
Vandenberg Base Plans Commercial Space Zone(Air Force Magazine) Vandenberg Space Force Base will establish a commercial space enterprise zone so private space companies, academia, and others can launch from the base.
Faces of Space – 1st Lt. Nathaniel Shannon(Colorado Springs Military Newspaper Group) By Airman 1st Class Brooke Wise | Peterson-Schriever Garrison Public Affairs SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — The U.S. Air Force has been upholding a tradition of camaraderie and discipline for 73 years. It was this sense of pride and purpose that inspired 1st Lt. Nathaniel Shannon, Space Delta 6 — Cyberspace Operations, 61st Cyberspace Squadron… Continue Reading Faces of Space – 1st Lt. Nathaniel Shannon