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Space Force's Roadmap For Commercial Partnerships
by Joseph Clark, DOD News
April 25, 2024

Lt. Gen. Shawn N. Bratton, the Space Force's deputy chief of space operations, strategy, plans, programs and requirements, said the service's recently released Commercial Space Strategy challenges leaders to think about new pathways for commercial partnerships and capitalize on rapidly emerging technology.

Lt. Gen. Shawn N. Bratton, the Space Force's deputy chief of space operations, strategy, plans, programs and requirements."How do we make ourselves a little uncomfortable and go into areas where we haven't explored, or we haven't partnered with commercial as much?" Bratton said in describing the genesis of the strategy during a discussion hosted by the Atlantic Council, a nonpartisan public policy organization in Washington. "And then, how do we build on just this long history where we've worked with commercial partners in more traditional areas like satellite communications."

The strategy outlines four lines of effort to operationalize the integration of commercial space capabilities: collaborative transparency, operational and technical integration, risk management and forward-leaning engagement to secure the future.

It describes an end-state where commercial space solutions are integrated across Space Force units. As part of the strategy, the Space Force will also seek to integrate other services' requirements into its commercial utilization plans.

Bratton said the strategy is designed to ensure the Space Force taps into innovation in ways that extend beyond previous partnerships with the commercial sector.

"Historically, we have always ... received commercial services, paid for commercial services, in ways that we were sort of very comfortable," he said.

He also said those commercial partnerships have traditionally been in areas of satellite communications and domain awareness.

But, he said, commercial technologies have made capabilities available that are useful for a broader array of mission areas, especially over the last decade.

March 27, 2024 - U.S. Space Force Maj. Carl Poole, Joint Commercial Operations cell site lead, briefs Mr. Kevin Leiser, German Parliament Member, during a visit to the JCO facility in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Leiser received a JCO mission brief to better understand the unique aspects and value of JCO operations. The JCO supports the National Space Defense Center’s core protect-and-defend mission and remain an extension of the NSDC operations floor, leveraging commercial providers to provide diverse, timely Space Domain Awareness. (Image created by USA Patriotism! from U.S. Space Force photo by Dalton Prejeant.)
March 27, 2024 - U.S. Space Force Maj. Carl Poole, Joint Commercial Operations cell site lead, briefs Mr. Kevin Leiser, German Parliament Member, during a visit to the JCO facility in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Leiser received a JCO mission brief to better understand the unique aspects and value of JCO operations. The JCO supports the National Space Defense Center’s core protect-and-defend mission and remain an extension of the NSDC operations floor, leveraging commercial providers to provide diverse, timely Space Domain Awareness. (Image created by USA Patriotism! from U.S. Space Force photo by Dalton Prejeant.)

Capitalizing on those opportunities requires thinking beyond traditional acquisition stovepipes to take advantage of "rapidly moving commercial enterprise."

The Space Force's strategy follows the release earlier this month of the Defense Department's Commercial Space Integration Strategy, which outlines the department's approach to effectively harnessing that innovation.

The department wide strategy highlights four priorities to achieve integration with commercial partners.

First, it calls for outlining DOD's requirements in contracts and other agreements to ensure commercial solutions are available when needed.

Second, the strategy involves the integration of commercial solutions into defense architecture during peacetime ... including planning, training and day-to-day operations ... to ensure warfighters can seamlessly employ those solutions during crisis or conflict.

Third, the strategy requires protecting and defending against threats to U.S. national security space assets, including those in space and on the ground and, where appropriate, commercial space solutions.

Finally, the strategy emphasizes that DOD will use its full range of financial, contractual and policy tools to support the development of new, commercial space solutions that have the potential to support the joint force.

John F. Plumb, assistant secretary of defense for space policy, said the department wide strategy reflects the imperative to seize on the commercial sector's ability to rapidly develop and field technology.

"The speed and the innovation in the commercial sector, especially at this time in our history, is just incredible," Plumb said earlier this month in describing the strategy. "And so, the question is: 'Shouldn't we be trying to harness that?' And the answer is, of course, 'Yes.'"

U.S. Space Force | U.S. Department of Defense

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