The Pentagon Has Just Unveiled Its New Commercial Space Integration Strategy

commercial space

Welcome to this week’s Intelligence Brief… on Tuesday, the Department of Defense revealed its new Commercial Space Integration Strategy, detailing the Pentagon’s plans for integrating commercial space solutions into U.S. national security space operations. In our breakdown this week, we’ll be looking at 1) what the Pentagon’s new plan entails and how it aims to optimize its combined efforts with commercial space solutions, 2) the key priorities outlined in the new plan, and 3) what necessitates the new “hybrid” efforts that combine U.S. government and commercial operations, when compared with past U.S. government space objectives.

Quote of the Week

“The rapidly growing commercial space sector, highlighted in the 2022 National Defense Strategy, presents an opportunity for the Department that we cannot overlook.”

– Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin

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The Pentagon Reveals Its New Commercial Space Integration Strategy

This week, the Pentagon revealed its latest strategic objectives to strengthen its efforts in space through cooperation with commercial partners.

“Increasingly, the commercial space sector is developing capabilities and services that have the potential to support national security,” the DoD said in a release on Tuesday, coinciding with the official release of its new Commercial Space Integration Strategy.

The new strategy outlines the Pentagon’s plans to integrate commercial space technologies into its space operations, highlighting government and commercial mission areas, as well as “hybrid” areas that include cyberspace operations, spacecraft operations, and other objectives that leverage the strengths of both commercial and official resources.

With the release of its new strategy, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Space Policy John Plumb said during a press conference that the impact of the commercial space industry on U.S. national security objectives “will be measured by how well the department can integrate commercial capabilities into the way we operate, both in peacetime and in conflict.”

Key Priorities and Areas of Focus

Among the main objectives outlined in the DoD’s new Commercial Space Integration Strategy is a focus on ensuring that commercial solutions will be available and accessible when they are needed. For this to be achieved, the DoD plans to use contracts and other agreements to “address the cyber, data, and supply chain security requirements that commercial entities will need to meet to work with the Department.”

The new strategy also focuses on integration efforts to be in place before the onset of crisis conditions that present a need for them by undertaking peacetime integration of commercial space solutions, and working “with the Intelligence Community, allies, and partners to integrate commercial solutions into shared architectures.”

John Plumb
Dr. John Plumb, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Space Policy, is greeted by U.S. Army Gen. James Dickinson, U.S. Space Command commander, on June 29, 2022 during Plumb’s visit to USSPACECOM headquarters, Peterson Space Force Base, Colorado (U.S. Space Command photo by Petty Officer 1st Class John Wagner).

The third priority outlined in the new plan focuses on the promotion of safety and security in the operational space domain through the establishment of security conditions that integrate commercial space solutions. “The Department will leverage a range of tools across all domains to deter aggression against and defeat threats to U.S. national security space interests,” the new strategy states, adding that where appropriate, commercial space solutions will be utilized for this. A threefold plan that combines norms and standards conducive to a safe space environment, threat information sharing with the commercial space sector, and financial protection through traditional commercial insurance, as well as U.S. government-provided insurance and other means of protection, are suggested as potential ways of mitigating risk.

Finally, the new strategy aims to promote the development of new commercial space technologies specifically for use by the Joint Force. “The Department will use a full range of available financial, contractual, and policy tools to rapidly field and scale commercial technology, attract private investment and commercial lenders, assist in clearing regulatory hurdles where national security imperatives are present, and ultimately bring new commercial solutions to the warfighter at speed,” the strategy explains.

Space 2.0: Government Integration with Commercial Space Solutions

In the past, the risks inherent to spaceflight operations limited significant participation by the commercial sector, leaving nearly all advancement in space exploration and orbital operations in the hands of governments. With the 21st-century rise of commercial space companies, the DoD’s new strategy aims to capitalize on the shift toward U.S. government cooperation with commercial space solutions and keep such efforts in line with the DoD’s National Defense Strategy.

Commercial Space
Above: On Feb. 14, the U.S. Missile Defense Agency and Space Development Agency prepare to launch six satellites to low-Earth orbit (Credit: Space X).

The Pentagon called the new strategy “a clear indication that the department wants to work with commercial firms across the spectrum of space,” noting that development and production of scalable new technologies will likely help to offer new means of enhancing the DoD’s space capabilities as the potential challenges of militarization of space become increasingly apparent.

“This strategy aligns efforts from across the Pentagon to overcome legacy practices and harness the ingenuity of the commercial space sector,” Plumb said on Tuesday.

“Doing so will both enhance resilience and strengthen deterrence.”

That concludes this week’s installment of The Intelligence Brief. You can read past editions of The Intelligence Brief at our website, or if you found this installment online, don’t forget to subscribe and get future email editions from us here. Also, if you have a tip or other information you’d like to send along directly to me, you can email me at micah [@] thedebrief [dot] org, or Tweet at me @MicahHanks.

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