We live in an era in which space is an increasingly challenged and even hostile environment. Today's adversaries are able to jam satellites for reversible effects and even permanently damage space assets with kinetic attacks from ground-launched missiles, building urgency for optimal resilience in space.
In April during the Space Symposium in Colorado Springs, Colorado, I joined Defense Department, intelligence community, State Department and Canadian Armed Forces leaders to examine the potential for adversaries to transform space into a battleground.
The panel discussion, titled "Warfare that Extends into Space: National Security, International, Civil and Commercial Partnerships," focused more on tangible, achievable solutions rather than doomsday scenarios, with participants expanding upon the immediate need for partnerships that would coalesce the efforts of the U.S. government, its allies and commercial industry to foster a more protected space environment and encourage responsible behaviors in space.
The need for such resilience and strong partnerships is not new: In 2007, the world was shocked when China fired a ground-based, medium-range ballistic missile to destroy its own weather satellite, some 537 miles above the Earth. This satellite intercept test served as an awakening, opening our eyes to a new challenge of space as a contested and potential hostile domain--one that could possibly emerge as a dangerous environment.
Now just over 10 years later, there is an increased urgency to act as we are more dependent on space today for so many aspects of our modern lifestyle. We must be mindful that the increasing challenges in space represent ever-increasing potential dangers to all space assets, not just military space vehicles.
To respond with a new, multinational and industrial-based national security strategy centered around space, we have to "go fast and we have to innovate," according to the panel's moderator, Stephen Kitay, deputy assistant secretary of defense for space policy. "Partnerships are key to our strategy."
What is clear is that the commercial satellite industry plays a primary, driving role in today's national security strategy rather than a secondary or reactive one. Across all domains and capabilities--satellite communications for ground, maritime and airborne operations, space situational awareness, global navigation satellite systems, satellite launches and hosted payloads--the commercial industry continues to...