Space Force Orbital Longevity Plan

The U.S. Space Force is putting together a plan for inflight space refueling and maintenance to be developed by commercial companies.

This is coming from a need for spy satellites to be more reactive to the changing space environment. Collision avoidance with debris is becoming a ever more pressing issue. This is along with the need of satellites to surveil new targets of opportunity but more interestingly the presence of other nations satellites that may want to observe or eliminate high interest targets in times of war.

Commercial companies have already pioneered this role and now the service is attempting to hire these companies as contractors to provide this need instead of developing it in house. This would allow a easy way for the Space Force to drive ahead with its plans and adapt existing commercial logistics to its own. The problem would come from developing and implementing interfaces that could take advantage of this in-space refueling, probably something that would be from new satellite development forward.

One of the many issues that arise from this is the expansion of security surface area that could be penetrated to get visual intelligence on Space Force hardware. With an increase in external partners, the myriad of different security setups could provide a weak link for actors to exploit. A lapse in security by a contractor could lead to nation states getting access to video and locational feeds to gain valuable intelligence on our nations leading edge spy hardware. This could also lead to more destructive problems that could mean the loss of a satellite due to a “accident”.