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Chapter 7

Space power has become as important to the nation as land, sea, and air power. The evolution toward a global economy will depend as much upon the information lines of communication through space as it will on the transportation lines of communication across the sea. Space forces will support the realization of Joint Vision 2010 by dominating the collection and dissemination of information in support of military operations. Consistent with National Space Policy, DoD is committed to utilizing and, if required, controlling space to assist in the successful execution of the National Security Strategy and the National Military Strategy.


Space forces have contributed significantly to U.S. successes during the Cold War and subsequent military operations. They continue to play a crucial role in supporting national security objectives, as evidenced by operations in the former Yugoslavia and the Middle East.

Space forces have become an integral part of the deterrent posture of the U.S. armed forces. They help confer a decisive advantage upon U.S. and friendly forces in terms of strategic warning, battlespace awareness, operational timing and tempo, synchronization, ability to maneuver, targeting, and the application of firepower. Any nation contemplating an action inimical to U.S. national security interests must be concerned about U.S. space capabilities.

Space forces help ensure that hostile actions will be detected by the United States in a timely manner and will also increasingly provide the information for operations planning and execution during crises and conflict. Space forces also play an ever-widening role in a number of military tasks, such as the effective application of precision munitions, the identification of critical enemy centers of gravity, target detection/attack, managing the flow of forces and logistics, battle/operations tracking, and campaign monitoring. The U.S. ability to effectively integrate space capabilities into military operations is critical to maintaining an effective U.S. deterrence capability and posture.

Enabling Joint Vision 2010

The Department of Defense recognizes the importance of information to the future conduct of warfare as highlighted in National Security Strategy, National Military Strategy, National Space Policy, and Joint Vision 2010. DoD is moving into the information age and toward a totally integrated battlespace, where communications and intelligence space systems are no longer viewed as solely supporting capabilities to the warfighter, but as instruments of combat. The space force structure represents a major component of the information infrastructure and will become increasingly important in deterring conflict and conducting future military operations.

Space forces provide the sole means to access otherwise denied areas of foreign countries without violating their sovereignty. The command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (C4ISR) capabilities provided by space forces are crucial to generating information necessary to support investment decisions that maintain U.S. military preparedness and readiness, to support military planning, and to enable information superiority during a crisis or conflict. Ground, naval, and air forces use satellites to maintain global awareness of events; to command, control, deploy, and employ forces; to monitor weather, oceanographic, and space environmental conditions; and to assess the effectiveness of military operations.

Space power has application throughout the continuum of military operations, from peacetime through all levels of conflict. U.S. space forces operate on a 24-hour basis and provide a C4ISR backbone to support military deployments and operations across the entire spectrum of military operations. Loss of access to overseas bases and increasing force deployments to areas lacking modern infrastructure increases reliance on space forces’ ability to rapidly provide an operational C4ISR infrastructure anywhere on earth. Space systems, always alert and ready, provide indispensable support to U.S. military forces and increasingly to coalition partners deployed and deploying outside the United States.

Future capabilities to provide geospatial information from space will sustain high quality information data bases that can be used to support the training of continental United States-based forces on virtual battlespaces prior to deployment. Such battlefield preparation will familiarize forces with operational areas prior to deployment and enhance mission planning and execution.

Protecting a New Center of Gravity

Space access and use are becoming increasingly important to the United States and its allies. The use of space assets and systems can be expected to flourish because of the unique benefits that space offers. The number of nations with militarily useful space systems is growing. Along with this, dependence on space forces for military operations, as well as for civil and commercial uses, is growing. The space C4ISR infrastructure, including terrestrial applications technologies, is expected to contribute tens of billions of dollars to the U.S. economy and may grow to hundreds of billions by 2000. During the next ten years, as many as 1,200-1,500 satellites may be launched—most will be built in the United States, and 30 percent will likely be launched by U.S. flag carriers. The total commercial investment in space will increase substantially over the next few decades as the nation transitions from an industrial-based economy to a global information and knowledge-based economy.

The world is increasingly transitioning to economies in which information is a major engine of prosperity. While U.S. national security interests focused in the past on assuring the availability of oil, the future may require greater interest in protecting and accessing the flow of information. As a result, the importance of space as a principal avenue for the unimpeded flow of information throughout a global market increases. DoD recognizes these strategic imperatives and will assure free access to and use of space to support U.S. national security and economic interests.

Numerous countries in regions around the world are acquiring or accessing space systems, technologies, and products. Foreign nations and subnational groups are obtaining space capabilities through indigenous efforts, purchases of goods and services, and cooperative activities. The spread of indigenous military and intelligence space systems, civil space systems with military and intelligence utility, and commercial space services with military and intelligence applications poses a significant challenge to U.S. defense strategy and military operations.

Because of the value of space systems to the U.S. economy and the military in future conflicts, the United States can expect attacks against U.S. and allied space systems. Consequently, DoD must be able to ensure freedom of action in space for friendly forces and, when directed, limit or deny an adversary’s ability to use the medium for hostile purposes. To ensure space control, DoD must sustain and improve capabilities to surveil and monitor all militarily significant activities in space. DoD also will continue to design, develop, and operate space systems with ensured survivability and endurability of their critical ground and space-based functions. Moreover, DoD must have capabilities to deny an adversary’s use of space systems to support hostile military forces.


Space Launch

Access to space is key for DoD to effectively use space. The current U.S. space launch systems differ only slightly from ballistic missiles developed during the 1950s and 1960s and have become increasingly costly to use. The National Space Transportation Policy seeks to balance efforts to sustain and modernize existing launch capabilities with the need to invest in the development of improved capabilities. DoD is the lead agency for improving today’s expendable launch vehicle (ELV) fleet, to include developing technology. The Department’s objective for this effort is to reduce costs while improving capability, reliability, operability, responsiveness, and safety.

To implement this guidance, DoD has initiated an Evolved ELV (EELV) program to eventually replace current medium and heavy lift launch systems. The program is defining a new relationship with the launch industry that emphasizes measured development. The intent is to allow U.S. industry a greater leadership role in free market access to space. The medium lift EELV could become operational as early as 2001, and the heavy lift version could become operational by 2003. Both would be based on a core system which would spawn a cost-effective family of vehicles. Ongoing efforts to define the size and capabilities of future satellite architectures will more clearly determine the need for medium and heavy lift versions of the EELV.

Although the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is the lead agency for the development of reusable launch vehicles, technology development and demonstration (for next generation reusable space transportation systems), including operational concepts, will be implemented in cooperation with related activities in DoD.

Space-Based Infrared System

The Department is proceeding with the development of a new multimission infrared detection system in geosynchronous and low earth orbits, with additional sensors in highly-elliptical orbits. The Space-Based Infrared System (SBIRS) program consolidates all previous space-based infrared systems into a single architecture system of systems supporting missile warning, missile defense, and intelligence applications. First launch of the geosynchronous SBIRS-High satellites will commence in 2002. The SBIRS-Low component, formerly known as the Space and Missile Tracking System, provides unique mid-course tracking of threats which will significantly enhance performance of both theater and possible national missile defenses, as well as augment intelligence and space surveillance. The SBIRS-Low notional concept calls for a constellation of 24 satellites working synergistically with SBIRS-High. The first launch is scheduled for the fourth quarter of FY 2004. To reduce technical risk in the accelerated SBIRS-Low program, three demonstration satellites will be launched (one in 1999 and two in 2000).

Military Satellite Communications

The Department recently conducted a comprehensive study on a future Military Satellite Communications (MILSATCOM) architecture to determine the best mix of capabilities, including commercial alternatives, to support military satellite communications needs for the 21st century. The findings validated several initiatives to take DoD into the next century, including upgrades to the Defense Satellite Communications System (DSCS) and Milstar, new advanced wideband and advanced EHF systems, the Ultra-High Frequency (UHF) Follow-on System, and the introduction of the Global Broadcast Service (GBS).

DSCS has been providing the bulk of DoD’s long-haul, high-capacity (wideband) satellite communications requirements for many years. However, Defense planning has emphasized the increased tactical needs of U.S. armed forces for space-based communications. To meet these needs, the remaining four DSCS payloads will be upgraded to provide five times as much data throughput in direct support of tactical users. This program’s last satellite is planned to be launched in 2003.

The Department is embarking on an accelerated wideband (SHF/Ka band) Gapfiller system which will focus on providing even more throughput by leveraging technology advances in the commercial sector. Wideband Gapfiller will provide an earlier capability—focused on the warfighters’ satellite communications (SATCOM) requirements in the 2004 time frame—than the previously planned Advanced Wideband System (AWS) previously planned for 2006. The SHF/Ka Gapfiller will allow for transition to the AWS in the FY 2009 time frame.

The key to Joint Vision 2010 digitized battlefield communications for mobile platforms will be UHF SATCOM, provided via UHF Follow-on through 2007. The Navy is studying the requirement to replace the current UHF satellite communications with the next generation of UHF and/or commercial systems.

The redesigned Milstar II system will provide medium data-rate communications to tactical forces worldwide that are survivable, difficult to detect, and jam-resistant. Milstar will continue to provide the requisite survivable, enduring, jam-resistant communications connectivity for strategic forces. Beyond Milstar II, DoD is seeking to provide advanced extremely high frequency capabilities on a platform that can be launched on a future medium lift vehicle instead of the heavy lift vehicle required today.

The Department’s MILSATCOM architecture study looked closely not only at military system solutions, but also at commercial technology. A prime example is the commercial development of direct television satellite broadcast systems. This technology created DoD-wide interest in a commercial-like GBS as a possible solution to capacity shortfalls and to enable efficient use of bandwidth. GBS would become part of the overall MILSATCOM architecture and would meet the warfighters’ need for increased worldwide, high-capacity communications by providing direct broadcast of digital multimedia information—including high bandwidth imagery and video—from global and theater injection sites to users. Initial operational capability is in 1999.

Global Positioning System

The Global Positioning System (GPS) is being integrated into all DoD combat forces, at all levels, from the hand-held receiver carried by the infantryman to the embedded GPS navigation aids on the most modern aircraft to provide precision location determination and navigation support. GPS is a part of the guidance system in most current and planned precision-guided munitions being acquired by the Services. GPS is also being integrated into military forces worldwide, both friend and foe.

Since the GPS has significant military utility, and since it is in the best interest of the United States to prevent the hostile use of the system against U.S. and allied forces, DoD has embarked on a security program known as Navigation Warfare (NAVWAR). The three principal tenets of NAVWAR are to protect the use of GPS by DoD and allied forces in times of conflict within the theater of operations; prevent the use of GPS by adversary forces; and preserve routine GPS service to all outside the theater of operations.

At the same time that military reliance on GPS is increasing, the applications of the worldwide civil user community continue to expand. GPS has evolved far beyond the vision of its original designers, and satellite navigation is now widely recognized as a worldwide information resource. For example, under U.S. leadership, the world has determined that a possible means to control air traffic—from en route to precision landing—will be via satellite. Since the inception of GPS, DoD has been confronted with the need to balance a wide range of different and sometimes competing national security, civil, foreign policy, commercial, and scientific interests. The challenge has been to exploit the full civil utility of the system without jeopardizing national security interests in the process.

To demonstrate commitment to the civil user, the Departments of Defense and Transportation have agreed to identify a second coded civil GPS signal and to develop a plan for providing the signal. Additionally, DoD has agreed not to alter the GPS military coded signal until the second coded civil GPS signal is available. These agreements assist civil users in their constant quest for greater accuracy.

From the program’s inception in the 1970s, the Department of Defense has been dedicated to successful management of the GPS as a dual-use (civil and military) national information resource. DoD’s stewardship of GPS has been instrumental in the growth of a new global industry. Today’s GPS industry provides employment and new export markets for U.S. firms, has spurred a rapid advance in technology and applications, and is providing products that will soon touch the lives of almost everyone on earth. As GPS moves into its next phase, management and oversight of dual-use aspects of GPS will be provided by a Presidentially-mandated Interagency GPS Executive Board. The Department will continue working in this new management structure to maintain the delicate balance between global security and economic interests in the operation of GPS.

Meteorological Satellite Convergence

The President’s decision to converge U.S. polar-orbiting operational environmental satellite systems will merge the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program and the Department of Commerce (DoC) Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite (POES) program, and capitalize on the technologies developed for NASA’s Earth Observing System. An Integrated Program Office (IPO), led by DoC, has been created to plan, develop, acquire, manage, launch, and operate the National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System (NPOESS). DoD has been designated the IPO’s lead agency for NPOESS system acquisitions. NPOESS will meet a National Performance Review objective to reduce the cost of acquiring and operating polar-orbiting environmental satellite systems, while continuing to satisfy military and civil operational requirements.

The NPOESS program is a three-satellite constellation which will enhance coverage and data availability to U.S. and allied forces. A DoC-led team that includes DoD and NASA is negotiating with the European Organization for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites to provide the third satellite in the converged constellation. DoD is working closely with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency and NASA to ensure that NPOESS satisfies national security requirements.


Space forces are fundamental to sustaining U.S. global commitments. The national security C4ISR infrastructure that space forces support enables air, land, and sea forces to be projected anywhere on the globe with the assurance that essential information will be available. The strategic significance of space to the nation’s security and prosperity will continue to increase as the world evolves toward a global market. DoD’s role in space during that evolution is to protect the nation’s investment by protecting U.S. space systems and assuring continued leadership in space.

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