Space: The Final Frontier…of War?

Laser Weapon From Earth Destroys Satellite In Space. 3D Illustration. Credit: Adobe Stock

Article: U.S. generals planning for a space war they see as all but inevitable (’s Sandra Erwin reports on the recent 36th Space Symposium in Colorado Springs, highlighting the role of the United States in its long-term strategic competition in space with Russia and China. She goes on to describe how last year, the Space Force “deployed an advanced ground-based communications jammer made by L3Harris that could be used as an “offensive weapon” to disrupt enemies’ satellite transmissions.” At the symposium, Chris Kubasik, the vice chairman and CEO of L3Harris, described space as critical infrastructure, saying “If you think of the impact of a war in space and how it impacts something as simple as our cellphones, navigation, supply chain, logistics, healthcare. I think it is a serious issue. And I think we have to continue to talk about it.” Another key takeaway from the symposium was the goal of the United States to make space networks more resilient to attack. Space Development Agency Director Derek Tournear described initial steps as moving away from “juicy targets” or large, expensive spacecraft and moving toward a proliferated space architecture with more, smaller satellites in a diversity of orbits.

The space systems problem I took away from this article was with communication signal infrastructure. Although there is so much to talk about with this article, one point I latched on to in the context of Space Systems Cybersecurity was the Space Force fielding a capability to disrupt satellite communications using a ground-based system. The announcement seems to be posturing to deter similar attacks by systems that could be fielded by other nation-state actors. With many forms of communication relying on space systems, including tactical communication systems, these critical networks currently lack resiliency to “losing” a satellite – even briefly. It appears that the US hopes to deter such an attack with the announcement of its offensive capability at least until the architecture resiliency issue can be addressed.

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