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Space security cooperation between Canada, U.S., U.K. and Australia , to counter threats

As the space is getting weaponized, countries are evolving new space strategies, space command and forces and space situational awareness and space weapons. There is also ongoing Space security cooperation between Canada, U.S., U.K. and Australia to counter the threats. In 2014, Defence departments of the Canada, U.S., the U.K. and Australia signed an agreement regarding share space-related resources and information.

 

“Our biggest concern is the behavior of Russia and of China,” Gen. Sir Chris Deverell, commander of Joint Forces Command, said Nov. 6 at the 2018 Global MilSatcom conference. The Joint Forces Command, under UK Ministry of Defence, oversees space, intelligence, information systems and cyber operations.  The U.K. — thanks in large part to Airbus and Surrey Satellite — builds a quarter of the world’s large communications satellites and 40 percent of the world’s small satellites, he said. This has a huge impact on the economy and also creates opportunities for the MoD to apply commercial technologies to space security. Threats to space systems not only are a concern to the military but to the larger economy that relies on satellites for essential services.

 

He slammed both nations for not practicing what they preach on the militarization of space. “They continue to promote international agreements on non-weaponization of space but are developing offensive space capabilities under a screen of propaganda and misinformation,” said Deverell. Russia and China are developing directed energy weapons, cyber techniques to disrupt satellite services and antisatellite missiles, he added.

 

The U.K. government designated space as critical national infrastructure in 2015 and most recently declared it the fifth warfighting domain along with air, sea, ground and cyber. U.K. space activities have to be pursued and made “resilient to challenges, be it jamming, cyber, direct attack, space weather, debris, Brexit or anything else.” Meanwhile, the U.K. military continues to deepen its participation in U.S. military space activities.

 

During Air Force Space Command’s recently concluded Schriever Wargame 2018 at Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama, the U.K. was put in charge of the so-called Special Capabilities Integration Cell. This cell is where commanders simulated how the U.S., U.K., Australia and Canada would combine their space capabilities to fend off attacks in a potential conflict.

 

“In this game, we had the first ever high-level coalition cell,” Air Force Brig. Gen. DeAnna Burt, director of operations and communications at U.S. Air Force Space Command, said last week in Washington. “Partners brought future capabilities they’d like to build at the SAP [special access program] level,” she said. “Britain ran the cell.” Burt said this was a sign that “we really have arrived as a coalition.”

 

US recently lunched ( 2018 ) space  strategy  also backs cooperation with international partners, the strategy features four “essential pillars” that constitute “a whole-of-government approach to United States leadership in space, in close partnership with the private sector and our allies,” according to the document. Three of those pillars are related to national security activities in space, including a shift to more resilient space architectures, strengthening deterrence and warfighting options in space, and improving “foundational capabilities, structures, and processes” that include space situational awareness, intelligence and acquisition issues.

Space security Cooperation

Australia’s newly stood up space agency has announced signing two agreements with counterpart agencies in Canada and the United Kingdom in Oct 2018. The Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) were signed between the Australian Space Agency, the Canadian Space Agency, and the United Kingdom Space Agency, with the three-way deal expected to help the nations develop their respective space programs and take advantage of the global industry. “Forging international partnerships is vital to building Australia’s space industry and ensuring our businesses can compete on the world stage,” Minister for Industry, Science and Technology Karen Andrews said Wednesday.

 

“These agreements with counterpart space agencies in Canada and the United Kingdom will increase opportunities to work together and share information, technology, and personnel between our nations.” The signing of the new MoUs took place at the International Astronautical Congress (IAC) being held in Bremen, Germany in Oct 2018. The IAC is an annual meeting of international space agencies and industry.

 

The Australian Space Agency last month signed a similar MoU with the Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales (CNES), with both agencies joining forces to develop their space capabilities, particularly in the areas of operations, science, Earth observation, positioning systems, and communications. The federal government announced during the 2018-19 Budget that it would be committing AU$41 million to the creation of the Australian Space Agency. Clark said the signing of the agreements represented the start of the Australian Space Agency’s journey with fellow spacefaring nations. “These signings provide a further positive contribution that cooperation in space science, research, technology, services, applications, and international governance can bring,” she said.

 

“Growing existing relationships with the United Kingdom on the likes of CSIRO’s NovaSar satellite project, Airbus’ Zephyr solar-powered unmanned aircraft, and Canada’s cooperation in Earth Observation with Geoscience Australia provides more opportunity to jointly identify projects like these that can be supported and developed in both countries.”

 

CSIRO Futures, which is the strategy advisory arm and a partner of Australia’s national science agency, recently produced a new roadmap helping to determine the direction the country’s space industry should take, highlighting that it isn’t just about putting people on the moon, rather the commercialisation of all things space. The roadmap focuses on three main areas for potential development: Space-derived services, space object tracking, and space exploration and utilisation.The space agency last week signed a statement of strategic intent with European manufacturing giant Airbus Defence and Space SAS. Airbus has had a presence in Australia for around 25 years, supplying mostly earth observation satellite imagery.

 

 

The announcement was followed by Gilmour Space Technologies also last week securing AU$19 million in funding from CSIRO’s Innovation Fund to develop low-cost launch vehicles to put small to medium-sized satellites into low earth orbit. It is expected Gilmour Space will soon be capable of launching satellites for both commercial and national benefit.

 

In 2014, Defence departments of the Canada, U.S., the U.K. and Australia signed an agreement regarding  share space-related resources and information. The shared information includes all important elements of space security, like data on satellite orbits, to help prevent collisions, accuracy of GPS signals, methods to prevent interference with satellite communications, and Space weather, such as geomagnetic storms caused by solar particles that can disrupt communications and power grids. Their joint statement goes on to say that ‘such activities will make a significant contribution towards a safer and more secure space environment while also enhancing mutual security.

 

Space Situational awareness

The U.S Air Force itself operates Space based surveillance System satellite, the SBSS that was declared fully operational in April 2013. SBSS provides around-the-clock, all-weather visibility, resulting in timely detection, collection, identification and tracking of space objects from low-Earth orbit to deep space. During the system’s first year of operation, it has collected more than 3.8 million observations of objects in deep space. System has helped the U.S. Air Force cut the danger of satellites being lost by two-thirds in the past year by detecting potential threats more quickly and enabling operators to take earlier action if needed.

 

US also have formidable ground based space surveillance capability. U.S. Defense Department recently awarded Lockheed Martin a $914 million contract for the Space Fence to replace the Air Force Space Surveillance System (AFSSS), which was partially shut down last September, due to budget constraints. The program will deliver a system of 2-3 geographically dispersed ground-based radars to provide timely assessment of space objects, events, and debris. The second site is planned for Australia, which was included as an option in Lockheed Martin’s contract, will “fill in the gaps” in the system, allowing the Air Force to see some objects more often, according to Lockheed Martin.

 

Lockheed Martin has completed construction of its Space Fence radar on Kwajalein Island in the Marshall Islands and has been tracking space objects using the full-up radar as the company prepares to hand over testing to the US Air Force (USAF) later in 2018. Space Fence is an advanced ground-based radar system that will use a highly sensitive S-band radar to identify and track these objects, which will help prevent satellites and the International Space Station from colliding with debris.

 

The Space Fence will only reach its full capability with the completion of second site in Australia by 2022. The second site will “fill in the gaps” in the system, allowing the Air Force to see some objects more often, according to Lockheed Martin. Space Fence prime contractor Lockheed Martin is preparing to start a site survey in June 2018 for the second radar location that would bring the space-observing radar system to full operational capability.

 

Canadian Military launched Sapphire, its first dedicated military satellite in February 2013. Canada’s Sapphire, a space-based electro-optical sensor, will track man-made space objects in high Earth orbit in order to improve Canada’s space situational awareness. It will be able to monitor every object bigger than 10 centimetres that is circling the earth. Data from the Sapphire satellite will contribute to the U.S. Space Surveillance Network, enhancing the ability of both countries to detect and avoid the collision of critical space platforms with other orbital objects. Canada’s contribution also ensures access to orbital data on space objects.  Canadians have been working with Americans in space surveillance for decades; the new satellite shall also provide information to U.S.-led Space Surveillance Catalogue.

 

“The launch of Sapphire ensures the Canadian Armed Forces’ continued cooperation with other nations in the area of space surveillance,” said Vice-Admiral Bruce Donaldson, Vice-Chief of the Defence Staff. “This milestone marks another important step in reducing the threat to our critical space capabilities.”

 

UK has most powerful space surveillance sensor in Europe is located in Fylingdales (UK), whose activities are geared to the US Space Surveillance Network (SSN) early warning and space surveillance mission. The Fylingdales complex consists of high-performance 3-face, phased array radar operating in the UHF-band, and is operated by the British armed forces.

 

Thus in the future, the member countries shall possess truly global Space Situational Awareness Monitoring and analysis network, through which they shall be able to monitor the 20,000 orbiting pieces space junk, as well as the status of friendly, neutral, and adversary space assets, capabilities, and operations and the space environment .

 

 

References and Resources also include:

https://spacenews.com/as-satellites-become-targets-u-k-military-seeks-closer-ties-with-space-industry/

https://www.zdnet.com/article/australia-signs-space-agreements-with-the-uk-and-canada/

 

About Rajesh Uppal

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