It’s Official: Space Force Sets Sights on Smaller Satellites – Blog 8

US Military Satellites Need to Get Smarter, More Self-Reliant

My review this week departs slightly because I decided to combine two articles since they go hand in hand with one another. 

In the first article, the U.S. Space Force will buy cheaper, smaller satellites in the future instead of the bespoke, multi-billion dollar behemoths it has relied on for decades.  “To gain speed, we must shorten development timelines by building smaller satellites, acquiring ground and software intensive systems in smaller more manageable pieces that can be delivered faster, using existing technology and designs to reduce non-recurring engineering to enable speed, taking advantage of commercial systems and capabilities, and most importantly delivering programs on cost and schedule through solid program management discipline and execution,” Frank Calvelli, the Space Force’s assistant secretary for acquisition and integration, wrote in the Oct. 31 letter, which was reviewed by Defense One.

The second article this week deals with a subject matter the class has discussed.   Predictive analytics and refuel-and-repair capabilities for satellites are some of Space Command’s key technology needs. 

The Space command is charged with monitoring activity and debris in space, for the operation of military satellites as well as manned space missions. To do that—and to detect electromagnetic waveforms that could be signs of electronic warfare from adversaries—they’ll need new types of satellites or new capabilities for satellites, Lt. Gen. John Shaw, deputy commander of U.S. Space Command, said at the DARPA Forward event.

The command is also seeking new types of AI software, deployable on satellites, to closely monitor electromagnetic noise or physical debris and watch for changes in “behavior.”

“There is the need to really understand…pattern of life of those active capabilities, and using the most predictive analytics to understand what may happen next, or to look for change detection in that environment.”

Russia has also shown a willingness to use space as a war domain, such as in February when it launched a coordinated (but Earth-based) cyber-attack against American satellite communications company ViaSat in the minutes before launching its invasion of Ukraine. 

The reason these two articles peaked my interest is while there is a direction to go to smaller, cubesat-type satellites, the second article talks about predictive analytics and the need to monitor the environment in space since it could become a war domain.  In class we have covered the topic of quality, resilience, and how these function in a COTs environment.  The SDA is a relatively new agency and it will be interesting to see how it balances the war domain and the smaller, cube satellites. 

US Military Satellites Need to Get Smarter, More Self-Reliant – Defense One

It’s Official: Space Force Sets Sights on Smaller Satellites – Nextgov