Space Force's new commercial strategy emphasizes partnerships

The introduction to the document emphasizes the desire for a deeper and more integrated relationship with the industry to confront growing threats in space from near-peer adversaries.

Space Force has released a new strategic plan that focuses on incorporating more commercial solutions to address space-related threats to national security.

Space Force lauds what it calls a renaissance in space and also points out the threats Russia and China present to national security, allied, commercial and civilian interests in space.

“We must tap into the spirit of American entrepreneurship, innovation, and vibrant competitive markets to be successful and sustain our competitive advantage across the spectrum of conflict in this era of Great Power Competition,” says the foreword to the strategy released April 10.

The authors of that forward are Frank Calvelli, assistant secretary of the Air Force for space acquisition and integration; and Space Force Gen. B. Chance Saltzman, chief of space operations.

The U.S. Space Force Commercial Space Strategy seeks to build on a similar document the Defense Department unveiled in April. Space Force's strategy has four guiding principles: balance, interoperability, resilience and responsible conduct.

Maturing and emerging commercial space solutions offer opportunities for Space Force to explore new ways to meet its requirements, the strategy states.

The strategy identifies four lines of effort that Space Force will pursue:

  • Collaborative transparency
  • Operational and technical integration
  • Risk management
  • Secure the future

Under collaborative transparency, Space Force wants to build partnerships and collaborate with the commercial sector to increase resiliency and diversity of satellite constellations and create a distributed space architecture.

For operational and technical integration, Space Force wants to work with the commercial sector to find opportunities to improve space domain awareness; satellite communications; space access, mobility and logistics; and tactical intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance.

Other areas within that second piece include cyberspace operations, command and control, space-based environmental monitoring, and positioning, navigation and timing.

Space Force also puts forward the idea of hybrid architectures that would connect defense, civilian and commercial space systems as a way of improving situational awareness.

The strategy identifies the offices responsible for each of the lines of efforts. For example, Space Systems Command is responsible for the secure the future line of effort.

The strategy also includes four criteria that Space Force will use to pick projects and initiatives to move forward on:

  • Operational utility
  • Feasibility
  • Resilience by design
  • Speed to fielding

“The Space Force has formalized how we want to move forward with commercial industry in a new approach to reset and improve our connection to the space economy; we need their innovations,” said Lt. Gen. Shawn Bratton, deputy chief of space operations, strategy, plans, programs and requirements. “We carefully constructed the Commercial Space Strategy to drive development of more resilient and combat-capable architectures while deploying them faster, in greater numbers, and at a lower cost.”