“Assured access to space means that our military can count on the space-based assets that we rely on for everything from missile warning to secure communications.”– General David D. Thompson, Vice Chief of Space Operations, quoted in “Space Force Advocates for Fiscal 2022 Funding to Assure Access to Space” by Andrea L. Harrington, Defense Daily, May 3, 2021.
“Assured access to space is critical to our ability to deter, defend, and win wars.”– Lieutenant General John F. Thompson, Commander, Space and Missile Systems Center, quoted in “Space Force's Key to Accessing Space is Accelerated Acquisition,” by Sandra Erwin, National Defense Magazine, August 27, 2020.
“Assured access to space is not only critical for our national security, but it is also critical for our economic security, as space-based capabilities are critical to industries ranging from banking to transportation.”– Lieutenant General Nina M. Armagno, Director of Staff, Headquarters U.S. Space Force, quoted in “Space Force's Nina Armagno on Technology Needs for Future Conflicts” by Stew Magnuson, National Defense Magazine, October 21, 2020.
What is Assured Access to Space?
Assured access to space (AATS) in a military context refers to the ability of a military force to reliably and continuously use space-based assets and capabilities to support their operations, without interruption or interference from other actors. This includes access to communication, navigation, intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, and other space-based capabilities critical to military operations.
Achieving AATS requires a combination of capabilities, including: resilient and redundant space-based systems; launch systems to replenish, argument or replace those systems; ground-based infrastructure to support those systems; and the ability to protect those assets from potential threats.
AATS is an important area of focus for many militaries around the world, as space-based assets become increasingly critical to modern military operations.