In 2022, the Defense Intelligence Agency published their analysis “Challenges to Space Security”. The analysis is US centric, and identifies five primary challenges in the areas of: capabilities, competition, proliferation, counterspace, and collisions.
Space-based capabilities enable functions that affect US homes, transportation, electric power grids, banking systems, and global communications. Satellites provide access to a broad range of information and enable many services in real time, from watching breaking news to monitoring US deployed armed forces around the world day or night. These and other benefits enabled by space systems are the result of more than 60 years of dedicated work by government agencies, military and civilian, and supported by many commercial space providers. Space systems also enable the US and allies to project combat power to areas of conflict and instability and allow US armed forces to collect vital intelligence on foreign threats, to navigate and maneuver rapidly, and to communicate with each other anywhere around the globe to ensure US security and quick response to international military and humanitarian crises.
China’s emergence as a space power in the late 20th and early 21st century and Russia’s post-Soviet resurgence have expanded the militarization of space. Both countries have integrated space and counterspace capabilities into their national and warfighting strategies to challenge the US. China and Russia are developing various means to exploit US reliance on space-based systems and challenge the US position in the space domain.
Space capabilities are increasing across a growing list of nations, including: missile warning, geolocation and tracking of friendly and adversary activities, target identification, and navigation services for their citizens and armed forces. Expanding constellations of remote-sensing satellites are reducing all countries’ ability to conceal sensitive tests, evaluation activities, and military exercises and operations.
Space commercialization is also growing as companies augment or replace government-provided launch, communications, SSA, remote-sensing also referred to intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) – and human spaceflight services. These firms are opening access to space technologies, services, and products to government and nongovernment entities that can pay for their capabilities. The growth of viable commercial space enterprises best represents how the use of space has expanded in scope, scale, and importance across the globe.
Space is being increasingly militarized. Some nations have developed, tested, and deployed various satellites and some counterspace weapons. China and Russia are developing new space systems to improve their military effectiveness and reduce any reliance on US space systems such as the Global Positioning System (GPS). Beijing and Moscow have also created separate space forces. As China’s and Russia’s space and counterspace capabilities increase, both nations are integrating space scenarios into their military exercises. They continue to develop, test, and proliferate sophisticated antisatellite (ASAT) weapons to hold US and allied space assets at risk.
The probability of collisions satellites with other objects in low Earth orbit (LEO) is growing and almost certainly will continue through at least 2030 because of rising numbers of space launches.
Source: Defense Intelligence Agency, Challenges to Space Security, 2022