SSA and Space Partnering: Feel The Disconnect

Posted: February 18, 2011 in Songs of Space and Nuclear War
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This CSIS panel, hosted by John Hamre, features the sitting DepSec Def, SecAF, and VCJCS.  The topic is largely about the new National Security Space Strategy.  Panel members repeatedly give great emphasis to the importance of Space Situational Awareness (SSA). 

SSA starts with space surveillance.  You can’t understand what’s going on in space until you know what’s in space.

With that as background, contrast the panel discussions with this Amy Butler article which addresses the fact the Air Force is moving away from a second SBSS satellite.  So was the first SBSS “too exquisite” or is the second is too expensive, or are we really talking out both sides of our mouths on SSA and we’re just going to have to assume much more SSA risk than we thought?

The panel also gives great importance to the U.S. “not going it alone” in space, that is, space-partnering for the purpose of having a more affordable and sustainable national security space capability. 

The unanswered issue is “who will we partner with and what will they provide?”  Will we use the NATO model where the U.S. contribution to the NATO “partnership” is headed towards 75% of the costs?  Will it be like the GPS partnership where the signal is provided as a “free” global utility? 

Space partner-wise, Australia and Japan are already on-board.  Then there are the Europeans and Israel.  India is an excellent candidate.  But who else will we partner with?  Russia and China seem to be just about the only two that have a national security space capability that they could provide: all the other space players we’ve already partnered with or they’ve already passed.   

The National Security Space Strategy—Implications for the Department of Defense, CSIS, 16 Feb 2011


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