Military leaders from around the globe on Wednesday identified improving safety and security of satellites and sharing more information between allies as top concerns at the Space Symposium, which drew military representatives of 23 nations to The Broadmoor this week.
Commanders from France, Germany, Finland, Japan, Chile, United Kingdom and the U.S. told a symposium crowd that space also needs a new code of conduct.
“In every warfighting domain, there are rules on professional behavior, said Gen. John “Jay” Raymond, Space Force chief of space operations. “We don’t have that here. It is the wild, wild west.”
As more and more satellites are launched into orbit – Raymond said the number of active satellites grew from 2,100 to about 4,900 in the past two years – safety and security remain paramount.
“Space fuels our way of life and our way of war,” Raymond said. “Our adversaries understand that and are developing weapons purpose-built to degrade our space capabilities.”
In the past several years, Raymond said China and Russia have continued to build satellites that could pose a threat to American spacecraft.
“Both have reversible jammers,” Raymond said. “Both have ground-based laser systems capable of blinding or damaging satellites. Both have ground-based missiles capable of destroying satellites on orbit. China has a satellite on orbit with a robotic arm that could be used to grab other satellites. And Russia … has a nesting doll satellite that opens up, releases another satellite, which can release a projectile. Since we last met, (at the 2019 Space Symposium) Russia deliberately tested and actively maneuvered that weapon system near a U.S. government asset.”
If a war hits orbit, America has something that Russia and China don't: Friends.
Col. Luis Felipe Saez, of Chile, welcomed the partnership found at the symposium, saying that no country should face the difficult challenges in space on its own.
Maj. Gen. Pasi Jokinen, commander of Air Force Command Finland, agreed, saying “There is a lot to defend in space and corporation and partnerships are required because nobody can do space alone.
Air Chief Marshal Mike Wigston, chief of the Air Staff for the Royal Air Force in the United Kingdom, said space has always been about interoperability and collaboration.
“The UK believes strongly that a open and resilient international order is fundamental to all of our security and prosperity,” Wigston said. “And that means people playing by the rules.”
He is asking governments and diplomats to work together to establish rules for responsible and safe behaviors in space.
Germany stood up its space command in July and Lt. Gen. Klaus Habersetzer, commander of German Air Operations Command, sees its value for all people.
“I’m convinced that the development of a space organization in the form of our new space command will greatly improve the potential for international cooperation, collaboration and essentially making our and your lives easier,” Kabersetzer said.
Raymond, Space Force’s top commander, said alliances can deter aggression in orbit.
“We are stronger together,” he said.