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New Space Strategy Looks to Integrate DOD, Commercial Efforts

Space plays a critical role in American security and prosperity, and it is essential to the men and women in the Defense Department who rely on space-based services every day to execute their missions. 

Increasingly, the commercial space sector is developing capabilities and services that have the potential to support national security. To seize this opportunity, DOD is releasing the first Commercial Space Integration Strategy, which outlines the department's efforts to effectively integrate commercial space solutions into national security space architectures.  

"The commercial space sector is driving innovation," John F. Plumb, assistant secretary of defense for space policy said. "But the impact on national security will be measured by how well the department can integrate commercial capabilities into the way we operate, both in peacetime and in conflict." Plumb holds a doctorate in aerospace engineering. 

A civilian stands and speaks into a microphone at a lectern, with a U.S. flag in the background.
Strategy Remarks
John F. Plumb, assistant secretary of defense for space policy, speaks during a press briefing on the 2024 Department of Defense Commercial Space Integration Strategy at the Pentagon, April 2, 2024.
Photo By: Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Alexander Kubitza, DOD
VIRIN: 240402-D-PM193-1102

The commercial space integration strategy is in line with the National Defense Strategy and builds on the realization that the private sector is driving innovation and agility in the business of space. 

While in the past, the U.S. government was the only entity big enough to shoulder the risk of space flight and space products, private firms now handle an increasing amount of space business.  

There are hundreds of firms specializing in launches, building space capabilities, setting up space networks and much more. The strategy is a clear indication that the department wants to work with commercial firms across the spectrum of space. 

The strategy is based on the premise that the commercial space sector's innovative capabilities, scalable production and rapid technology refresh rates provide pathways to enhance the resilience of DOD space capabilities and strengthen deterrence, officials said speaking on background. 

Service members depend on space-based equipment for finding locations, targeting enemies, surveilling areas, watching the weather and much, much more. Our competitors understand the United States' reliance on space, and they have developed antisatellite weapons to negate America's advantage in space. Integrating commercial space solutions will help improve the resilience of the national security space architecture and contribute to a safe, secure, stable and sustainable space domain, officials said.

A streak of fire follows a rocket as it launches into a blue sky.
Satellites to Space
A Falcon 9 rocket launches 24 satellites from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Fla., Feb. 25, 2024.
Photo By: Joshua Conti, Space Force
VIRIN: 240225-X-KD758-1002M
A rocket sits on a metal platform.
Rocket Preps
The Missile Defense Agency and Space Development Agency prepare to launch six satellites to low-Earth orbit on Feb. 14. The satellites will launch from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Space utilizing SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket. This includes two satellites for MDA’s Hypersonic and Ballistic Tracking Space Sensor (HBTSS) and the final four SDA Tranche 0 (T0) Tracking Layer satellites of its Proliferated Warfighter Space Architecture (PWSA).
Photo By: Courtesy SpaceX
VIRIN: 240214-D-D0439-001
"This strategy aligns efforts from across the Pentagon to overcome legacy practices and harness the ingenuity of the commercial space sector," Plumb said. "Doing so will both enhance resilience and strengthen deterrence."

The commercial space integration strategy highlights four priorities to achieve integration. 

First, to ensure commercial solutions are available when needed, the department will use contracts and other agreements to outline requirements. 

Second, DOD will achieve integration of commercial solutions during peacetime, including in planning, training and day-to-day operations, to allow the Department to seamlessly utilize commercial space solutions during crisis and conflict.  

Third, DOD will protect and defend against threats to U.S. national security space interests, including those in space and on the ground, and where appropriate, commercial space solutions. DOD will promote the security of commercial solutions through three lines of effort: norms and standards, threat information sharing and financial protection mechanisms. 

Fourth, the strategy emphasizes that the department will use its full range of available financial, contractual and policy tools to support the development of new commercial space solutions "that have the potential to support the joint force." 

Finally, the department will adhere to four foundational principles in its strategy — balance, interoperability, resilience and responsible conduct — to ensure that commercial solutions are integrated into national security space architecture.

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