By C. Todd Lopez
WASHINGTON (April 09, 2019) -- Though there once may have been tranquility in space, that's likely no longer the case, Acting Defense Secretary Patrick M. Shanahan told the 35th Space Symposium in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
"We're in an era of great power competition, and the next major conflict may be won or lost in space," Shanahan said. "Space is no longer a sanctuary -- it is now a warfighting domain."
The secretary told U.S. military and defense industry space experts that the Defense Department is embarking on a massive effort to ensure the United States maintains its dominance in space amid competitors' challenges to that dominance.
In addition to the proposed U.S. Space Force, the effort includes a new joint combatant command -- U.S. Space Command -- and the Space Development Agency, which will ensure those fighting to maintain space dominance always have the best gear.
Shanahan said the Space Development Agency is expected to do three things for the U.S. military:
1- Provide consolidation of activity and integration at scale.
Shanahan said the Army, Navy and Air Force all maintain space satellite communications systems and have deployed more than 130 different types of wide-band terminals, in addition to narrow band and protected satellite communication terminals. The SDA will provide a "once-in-a-generation opportunity" to consolidate systems and provide a unified, multidomain command and control system.
2- Lead a true national team systems engineering effort.
Shanahan said the SDA can be a central figure in engineering the multiple and complex components of space systems. This might include, for instance, launch vehicles, the satellite bus, the payload, the standards and protocols, the mesh network, the ground stations and the terminals.
3- Harness the innovation and investment taking place in commercial space.
The SDA will not equip America's warfighters all alone, the secretary said. It will, as the Defense Department and the services have done all along, work hand in hand with the defense industry. Shanahan said revenue generated by the global space industry may increase to more than $1.1 trillion by 2040. "DOD must leverage the private sector investment chasing this opportunity," he added.
Learn more here about what's driving DOD's efforts to increase its space capability.