NSS Program Summary

Written by: developer

Air Force Space Command Cyber Workshop

The Air Force Space Command Cyber Workshop, held in conjunction with the 25th National Space Symposium, was presided over by Maj. Gen William T. Lord, USAF, Commander, Air Force Cyber Command (Provisional), AFCYBER/CC. A key point was that the organizations providing the network are not necessarily the ones tasked with ensuring continuous, secure operations, creating a need for cooperation and standardization to provide rapid response to threats as they arise. Noting that potential adversaries are aware of the U.S. military’s reliance on information networks and space systems, the panelists highlighted the importance of prioritizing military capabilities and of having plans in place to make it difficult for cyber enemies to determine how much damage they can inflicts on U.S. networks.

Space as a Contested Environment

Presented by the U. S. Air Force Air University, the Space as a Contested Environment forum focused on the nation’s growing reliance on space and the need for education, awareness and a carefully crafted course of action that includes space asset protection and situational awareness. In the education realm, a panelist recommended better defined training and education objectives, content, and career models, and increasing the number of space textbooks. The discussion included examination of military, civilian, and commercial perspectives, noting that the military provides access and protection, the civil government is primarily concerned about orbital debris and commercial satellite operators are concerned about frequency interference, cyber attack, and space traffic control, with growing worries about communication during periods of political tension, capacity allocation/reprioritization, and protection. The workshop stressed the importance of cooperation among commercial operators and the government to work out solutions to potential conflicts in advance.

The Next Space Age

The opening panel, moderator Dr. Michael Simpson, president of the International Space University, set the stage for the 25th National Space Symposium by defining The Next Space Age as the transition from developing the ability to send humans to space to the actual movement of human society to space. Panelist and noted futurist Alvin Toffler stressed that the future should be seen as a transformational and revolutionary time rather than linear. Topics included: the need for more collaboration among nations on security space issues; creating more capable and less costly space systems; how new private space developments can inspire young people and revitalize the space industry; the importance of having government policies that encourage industry growth; and the role of entrepreneurs as the source of future innovation.

Gen. C. Robert Kehler, Commander, Air Force Space Command

General C. Robert Kehler, Commander of Air Force Space Command, discussed the ability of space assets to revolutionize tactical military operations, explaining that as the uses and opportunities presented by space activities grow, so do the threats and efforts to disrupt these capabilities. He presented the idea of a rapidly evolving “spherical battle space” that begins at geosynchronous orbit-level and looks down, rather than looking up from Earth. He discussed the need for better situational awareness of space and cyberspace; for recruitment of America’s best talent; for further technological development leading to smaller, more capable assets; for further changes in the space acquisition process; and for the U.S. to continue to meet national security requirements in space and cyberspace.

David W. Thompson, Chairman & CEO, Orbital Sciences Corp.

David W. Thompson, Chairman and CEO of Orbital Sciences Corporation, provided an overview of world space trends, noting that the U.S. continues to be a world leader in most space activities, including space science, earth science, human space flight, national security, and commercial satellites, but that quick and determined action is needed to ensure the leadership margin does not narrow or disappear. He noted the need to shorten acquisition cycles for national security assets and to address vulnerability to physical and cyber attacks.

Challenges for The Next Space Age

The Challenges for The Next Space Age panel stressed the global importance of space, in both economic and national security terms, noting that an irreversible dependency has developed among nations. They highlighted the need for increased space situational awareness and protection of space assets, and emphasized the need for all space sectors to work together to provide advanced capabilities, such as using commercial space assets to support defense objectives through capacity and hosted payloads. Panelists suggested taking an enterprise approach to the United States’ space policy, examining the objectives and policies, and comparing these to the changing realities in the global space industry. An ongoing challenge in maintain U.S. space leadership includes rebuilding of talent and experience in space systems engineering. This experience is needed to allow successful future development. In addition, the U.S. will need to examine its relationship with other global space powers to ensure mutually beneficial development that ensures the sustainability of space activities.

The Air Force and Cyberspace – Expanded Missions for The Next Space Age, Major General William T. Lord, USAF

Major General William T. Lord, USAF, stated that as a command that has led cultural changes in the past, space command is a natural home for cyber capabilities. He enumerated risks in the cyber domain: websites have been used by terrorists for coordinating attack, recruiting and communications; cyber capabilities, such as map programs or voice-over-Internet protocol, have been used to coordinate attacks; hackers have attacked large government networks. The Air Force is making deliberate efforts to recruit, educate, and train cyber professionals who can use networks to gain advantages over enemies, defend Air Force networks from attack, and set up communications anytime and anywhere. Gen. Lord noted that cyber developments necessitate close ties with other government agencies, such as Homeland Security, and rely on industry for cyber protection tools and training of professionals.

Regulating The Next Space Age

The Regulating The Next Space Age panel noted that the increasingly international nature of space and growing private space activities have created international consensus that regulation is necessary, exemplified by the large number of nations that have signed the United Nations Outer Space Treaty. Panelists suggested that efforts to regulate emerging space industries should also encourage, facilitate, and promote development of the industry, and that regulation should take place only to the extent necessary to protect public safety and property. Panelists identified a need to coordinate and share data internationally to better manage space traffic, particularly orbital debris. They noted that some international efforts, such as those by the International Debris Mitigation Committee, have already identified voluntary debris mitigation guidelines but do not have any methods to enforce the guidelines, instead depending on mutual interest in maintaining usability in space to ensure they are followed.

Acquisition for The Next Space Age, Lt. Gen. John T. Sheridan, USAF

Lt. General John T. Sheridan, USAF, listed characteristics important to acquisition of space assets, including a need to develop assets at the “speed of need” (the speed that the warfighter requires). He said that the U.S. should define and adopt “good enough” requirements that allow substantial user benefit, but ensure buildability within a reasonable amount of time and within budget. Lt. Gen. Sheridan proposed following a spiral or block build to allow interim deliveries based on assured delivery schedules. He went on to identify challenges to achieving these characteristics, and emphasized the need for coordination, communication, and trust within the government and towards contractors. He pointed out that space assets are operating in a contested environment, in which space situational awareness, space asset protection, and counter-space capabilities will be important, and he emphasized the need to develop and mentor future talent to address these needs.

A New Generation for The Next Space Age

Comprising young aerospace professionals, the A New Generation for The Next Space Age panel discussed their viewpoints on the space industry, describing the younger generation as interested in engagement and focused on technology and networking capabilities. Due to greater accessibility and ease of global communication, they said that this generation is open to and interested in international collaboration. They discussed the importance of reaching the next generation by engaging young people in ways that are relevant to them. Three of the four panelists, as well as the moderator, were female, and they addressed issues of working in a male-dominated industry. Although some had encountered difficulties, they said that, overall, they had a positive work experience. The male panelist addressed the related issue of being young in an industry dominated by older professionals, noting that there is often an initial hurdle for young people requiring them to prove their ability, as opposed to older professionals who are assumed to have expertise.

Space Commanders’ Forum

The Space Commanders’ Forum featured four former commanders of U.S. Space Command and one former commander of U.S. Strategic Command, each of whom spoke about significant events during his tenure, as well as offering some thoughts on the future. The panelists noted the need for a cohesive national space policy to provide vision for the country and suggested that there may be a need to create a separate space force some day. They said the Air Force needs to embrace space activities and provide adequate resources, suggested a need for a joint commander focused on space, and said they supported having people working on space and cyber and nothing else. Panelists underscored the need to gather the right talent and leadership and proposed changing the acquisition process to eliminate the lowest bidder requirement, focusing instead on finding suppliers that can build what is needed, and being willing to pay for it. A panelist stated that there is a need to explore new and more effective processes, to see shared opportunities and obligations, and to use space for the common good.

Elon Musk, CEO & CTO, SpaceX

Elon Musk spoke about his goal of increasing the reliability of space access while significantly reducing the cost. He discussed SpaceX’s progression from the Falcon 1 to Falcon 9 to reach the ultimate goal of Dragon, a manned spacecraft to carry cargo and humans to and from the International Space Station. He spoke about the difficulty of working in the launch industry, due to the extreme requirements for rocket efficiency and challenges of re-usability. He said that this industry is not for the faint of heart, but it is his passion and he plans to stay in this industry for the rest of his life. He said his goal is to create more affordable, more reliable transportation, but the “holy grail” is to create reusable transportation. Musk said that SpaceX plans to add another 150-200 employees through the end of the year, with a goal of growing to more than 1,000 employees next year, while trying to remain a small, efficient company.

Changing Applications and End-User Products for The Next Space Age

Representing a variety of commercial satellite companies, the Changing Applications and End-User Products for The Next Space Age panelists discussed growing areas of satellite applications, such as affordable rural broadband coverage, and mobile broadband coverage. They predicted that future media will depend on direct-to-home service providing on-demand access to programming. They highlighted the advancement of remote sensing technology, asserting that the commercial sector offers the most cost-effective method of mapping for the U. S. government. They predicted that new materials, such as carbon nanotubes, will be key to increasing antenna aperture, increasing power, and reducing weight. The panelists said that, as commercial space applications such as satellite radio become increasingly popular, public perception of the value of space increases but that there is a disconnect between the perception of available space capabilities and the realities of what is currently possible. They said the most effective way to combat this is to demonstrate the technology and allow people to see the capabilities first-hand.

Vice Admiral Carl V. Mauney, USN

The Deputy Commander of U.S. Strategic Command, Vice Admiral Carl V. Mauney, USN, spoke about USSTRATCOM initiatives, including space operations, force enhancements, on-orbit operations, maintaining space situational awareness for military and civil government as well as for some commercial and foreign entities, serving as an advocate for future space capabilities, and acting as the Department of Defense manager for manned space operations. He said future efforts will include increasing collaboration with international partners to increase operational effectiveness and promote responsible behavior in space, and improving space situational awareness to aid understanding of objects in space, their purposes, and their owners, all of which will help to prevent future collisions. Also, he said USSTRATCOM will be working with the private sector to increase and improve acquisition, development, and launch capabilities. Vice Admiral Mauney concluded by noting that space is a “common area” that contributes to a more stable world and helps support global security by bringing nations together.

Changing Relationships for The Next Space Age

This panel, which represented international interests, noted that as the world moves into the next space age, more nations are engaging in space activities, making international relationships increasingly important. They said that, as the cost of space activities rises, interdependence and mutually supportive agreements are necessary to allow these activities to move forward. Furthermore, they said that the challenges faced today, such as the economic crisis, climate change, and space debris, are global in nature and require global solutions, drawing on a history of international cooperation in the space industry that can act as a foundation for future partnerships. They cited programs such as the International Space Station that can provide a model for future international relationships based on both independent capabilities and interdependence and said that, due to the need to work with international customers, many commercial space companies have become global in nature, making international cooperation a normal, everyday activity. Panelists acknowledged that regulatory regimes, such as the United States’ ITAR, can pose a challenge to collaboration; they supported ITAR reform, but also recognized need to protect sensitive technology.

Our World in The Next Space Age – Addressing Climate Change through Space – Dr. Alexis C. Livanos, Corporate Vice President and Chief Technology Officer, Northrop Grumman Corporation

According to Northrop Grumman Corporate Vice President and Chief Technology Officer Dr. Alexis Livanos, the approach to solving climate change issues must be integrated and comprehensive and that space assets have the potential to provide data to inform any such effort. He said that solutions must take technological, policy and international relations issues into consideration and that commercial satellite companies will have to partner with government industries such as NASA and NOAA, universities, ecological groups, and industries affected by climate change.

Our World in The Next Space Age – Addressing Climate Change Through Space Getting – Panel

The Our World in The Next Space Age – Addressing Climate Change Through Space Getting panelists said that measurement is one of the first steps in addressing climate change, and space assets can provide a unique capability to collect data on a global level. They laid out the challenges, including the need to prioritize measurement requirements, improve continuity and sustainability, to clarify roles and responsibilities for national and international collaboration, and to make sure this data is available to researchers, citing a number of efforts to address these issues. The panel said that NASA and NOAA are developing new data collection capabilities in accordance with the National Research Commission Decadal Survey and that NOAA has an initiative to develop and maintain comprehensive, authoritative climate records. Other efforts cited include the ongoing development of the Global Earth Observing System of Systems, an international effort to coordinate global climate change research.

Scott F. Large, Director, National Reconnaissance Office

Scott F. Large, director of the National Reconnaissance Office, acknowledged the changing realities in the space industry, as both capabilities and threats continue to grow. Within the NRO, he said national security space is defined to include every aspect of how space is used in the United States and that one of the goals of the NRO is to inform members of Congress about the importance of maintaining our current advantage and leadership in space. Large spoke of the importance of sustaining and growing a cadre of skilled people and maintaining second- and third-tier component suppliers. He advocated taking a longer-term view of the budget process, looking 10 to 15 years into the future to ensure sustainability and continued support of the industrial base. Large argued that competition is important to the industry, but full and open competition is not possible in all cases due to the need for domain expertise. He also noted the benefit of firm fixed-price contracts, but added that these needed to be used prudently because it is difficult to accomplish innovative development in a fixed-price environment.

Changing Business Models for The Next Space Age

The Changing Business Models for the Next Space Age panel discussed space industry business models, including large prime contractors working across many capability areas and companies focused on knowledge in a particular sector. They stressed the importance of understanding the industry, including focusing on what customers need and knowing the drivers of the business cycle and promoted the idea of developing only products that aren’t already commercially available, and relying on expert systems engineering to provide tailored solutions using existing technologies. Panelists also addressed industry workforce challenges, including the difficulty of retaining expertise for things done on an infrequent basis, which highlights the need for increased and sustainable government funding to address this issue and for companies to invest in maintaining capabilities. Panelists argued that work force issues may be a symptom, rather than the cause of larger problems, citing underlying issues such as working in a low-margin business, dealing with ITAR, and a lack of federal research and development investment in universities. Noting that many students earning degrees in science and technology fields in the U.S. are foreign nationals who, due to immigration laws, do not remain in the United States after graduation, the panel said we must address these underlying issues to move forward. Panelists also suggested actions industry could take to attract high quality employees, such as providing stimulating jobs that keep new employees challenged and providing employees with growth potential and the ability to create innovative capabilities.

Today’s Top Space Companies Look at The Next Space Age

Executives from EADS Astrium, Northrop Grumman Corp., Raytheon, Boeing, and Lockheed Martin presented views of the commercial space industry, acknowledging the changing landscape of the space industry, and highlighting the importance of technological and process innovation. They noted that space applications have become a larger part of everyday life, and that downstream applications represent a promising market. Although government funding remains critical to the industry, they said commercial space activity that is likely to continue to grow. Looking to the future, panelists identified multiple pathways, including increased international cooperation, an era of conflict in which U.S. space assets are at risk, and an era of stagnation in the industry, saying that concerted effort must be made to ensure the industry continues to prosper in the future. Panelists suggested that economic breakthroughs, particularly in space access, will be key to opening the door to greater activity, as will stronger government-industry partnerships. In addition, they said there is a need to re-capture the imagination of the public, particularly young people, to inspire future leaders in the space industry.

Talking about NASA and The Next Space Age

The Talking about NASA and The Next Space Age panel discussed NASA’s future direction, pointing to evidence that the “next space age” has already begun. They said that international collaboration is part of almost every NASA mission, including scientific collaboration with Europe, India, Russia, and others. They added that NASA is planning to award commercial re-supply contracts for the International Space Station, increasing the role of private industry in supporting manned space flight and that, in the future, international collaborative relationships will continue to evolve, as will the ability of international partners to provide new capabilities. NASA’s future activities will include returning to the Moon and then to Mars and, throughout these efforts, NASA will continue to engage in discussions on global collaboration on exploration.

International Agencies Look to The Next Space Age

The International Agencies Look to The Next Space Age comprised representatives from Japan, China, and Europe who spoke about current activities and future plans within their space agencies.

Dr. Zhou Jianping, Chief Designer in the China Manned Space Program, said that China is focusing on building manned space flight experience and, by 2020, the China Space Administration plans to operate a modular national space station. He added that China is interested in international collaboration in the future, possibly including participating in the International Space Station (ISS).

Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) Executive Director for Planning, Management, and International Relations Hideshi Kozawa explained that JAXA uses space to promote science, exploration, and satellite applications. He said that JAXA is a partner in the ISS, participates in international discussions on cooperative manned lunar missions, and operates a variety of unmanned space science and space exploration missions, often in collaboration with international partners. Recently, he said, Japan has changed its space policy to allow application of space technology to national security issues, although it is not yet clear how funding will be allocated to this area.

Dr. Paul L. Weissenberg, Director and Coordinator for Aerospace, Security, and Defence in the European Commission said that, through creation of the European Space Policy in 2007, the European Union has worked with the European Space Agency (ESA) to align space activities with strategic goals, particularly in the area of security. Dr. Weissenberg said that this type of coordination also needs to happen with international partners outside of Europe and that Europe is eager to collaborate with the U.S. on space security issues, such as space situational awareness.

Noting that ESA has a long history of cooperation with the United States, ESA Director General Jean-Jacques Dordain emphasized the need to work with non-space powers in addition to engaging space powers around the world. He provided the example of the European-led charter that makes satellite data available all over the world in the event of a natural disaster. Stating that successful cooperation is based on relationships, Dr. Dordain said people of all nationalities need to work together to build a global future.

Anousheh Ansari, Co-founder and Chairman of Prodea Systems

Anousheh Ansari, the first female private space explorer, spoke on the promise of space, stating that the public is not fully aware of the role space applications play in everyday life – and even suggesting that this be remedied by “turning off” all space applications for a day so that people can see how pervasive space is. She said that barriers such as high costs, government policies, and security concerns slow the progress of private space activities despite their potential to offer significant returns. She said that Earth observation and space remote sensing allow nations to undertake large-scale projects such as urban planning and natural resource management that could be particularly beneficial to developing countries. In the future, she said, more advanced markets may emerge in point-to-point space flight, solar power satellites, and space research and manufacturing and that the international community must maintain access to space to provide these benefits and to create a vision of a brighter future for the next generation.

The Honorable Michael B. Donley, Secretary of the U.S. Air Force

Secretary of the United States Air Force Michael B. Donley identified four cornerstones for collective space progress: sustainment, surveillance, protection, and partnerships. He said that sustainment includes maintenance and growth of a robust industrial base and the ability to recapitalize and modernize national space programs that give the U.S. and its allies a strategic advantage. He said that the second cornerstone, surveillance, is based on the idea that it is in everyone’s interest to have a robust, timely, and integrated architecture for space situational awareness, adding that the U.S. will continue to develop this capability by improving sensor capabilities, data integration and sharing. Donley said protection, the third cornerstone, is the need to ensure that the U.S. and coalition partners maintain freedom of action in space, which the Air Force is doing in conjunction with the National Reconnaissance Office through the Space Protection Program. He said that the final cornerstone for collective space progress is partnerships, noting that identifying best practices and sharing resources strengthen space enterprise for all involved. He said that the U.S. is pursuing mutually beneficial partnerships with Australia and the United Kingdom and is exploring future partnerships with Canada and France. He said space situational awareness can build on the momentum of existing partnerships. Donley concluded by asserting that space remains the ultimate high ground and continues to inspire.

This article is part of Space Watch: April 2009 (Volume: 8, Issue: 4).