Next week at the SATELLITE 2015 show in Washington, DC, I will participate in an important panel discussion titled The Future of Government and Military Space: Safe Bets and Bold Predictions. The discussion will look specifically at why the DoD finds itself at a crossroads in regard to space programs and policies. One important point I plan to make is the need for a new space architecture that clearly articulates the integration of commercial satellite communications capabilities. Over the past 20 years, commercial operators have proven many times over that the DoD can rely on them to deploy new and innovative space and ground systems to serve the growing needs of a wide range of Government users rapidly over a sustained period of time. At this critical juncture in time, commercial operator partners need a place at the planning table so that the latest technological innovations can be fully leveraged by the U.S. Government today and well into the future. Here’s an early peek at some of my points for the readers of SatCom Frontier. With a nod to the upcoming retirement of Tonight Show host David Letterman and his “lists,” here are my Top 10 reasons America needs a new architecture in space:
1) To allow all military and industry partners to start planning and more importantly, INVESTING, in future capabilities that will align with where the DoD is going. 2) To build greater mission assurance into the architecture in order to mitigate the increasingly contested threat environment. An excellent example involves Protected Tactical Communications being successfully tested with the AF and Intelsat’s current and future fleet. 3) To greatly improve the ground integration between the military and commercial infrastructure for greater resiliency and survivability. 4) To drive a new concept of operations that is integrated, flexible, pre-planned and exercisable. 5) To avoid the high cost of changing commercial tactical terminals from Ku-band to Mil-Ka such as on critical RPA platforms. 6) To advance from block-buy static systems to spiral innovation concepts and new service paradigms that provide flexibility and lower costs for satcom solutions. 7) To allow the DoD to use their limited resources to focus on missions that are not already well-covered by a mature commercial industry. 8) To leverage the investment in multiband terminals and commercial spectrum. 9) To help dissolve the operations and acquisition delineation between milsatcom and commercial so that they are an integrated capability and viewed as a range of “tools in the tool belt”. 10) To lead to new space policies and more effective acquisition strategies and authorities, and provide commercial operators with a better understanding of their role and the capabilities they will be counted on to provide.
This is a vital conversation. I’ve been encouraged by the gradual signs of a culture change inside DoD that makes these kinds of strategic space conversations possible.