Reform

Shanahan: Space No Longer Peaceful

April 9, 2019 | BY C. Todd Lopez

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."

Acting Defense Secretary Patrick M. Shanahan speaks from behind a podium on a stage.
Symposium Speech
Acting Defense Secretary Patrick M. Shanahan delivers remarks at the 35th Space Symposium in Colorado Springs, Colo., April 9, 2019.
Photo By: Lisa Ferdinando, DOD
VIRIN: 190409-D-BN624-0143A

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.

Men in transport jet’s cargo bay.
Space Cargo
Lockheed Martin personnel load cargo on a C-17 Globemaster III transport jet at Buckley Air Force Base, Colo., March 18, 2019. Lockheed Martin, along with the Air National Guard and active-duty components, loaded the 70,000 pound cargo, successfully delivering the second GPS III Space Vehicle to Astrotech Space Operations in Titusville, Fla., to begin satellite launch processing.
Photo By: Air Force Airman 1st Class Michael Mathews
VIRIN: 190318-F-LQ002-304
Military rocket blasts off from launching pad.
Rocket Fire
The EFT-1 military satellite launches from Kennedy Space Center in Florida, Dec. 5, 2014.
Photo By: NASA
VIRIN: 141214-D-HG842-001C

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 about what’s driving DOD’s efforts to increase its space capability.