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Why We Need To Secure The High Ground In Space

Why We Need To Secure The High Ground In Space

In August, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin issued a directive stressing that space is a priority domain for the U.S. military underpinning our national security. The secretary emphasized DOD’s unwavering commitment to defend the stability and access to space for the national security and economic wellbeing of the U.S. and its allies.

Space is fundamental to establishing, maintaining, and projecting military superiority across all other domains. U.S. and allied forces rely on satellites to deliver critical capabilities enabling the military to communicate, move, surveil and engage the enemy. Dependence on space-based technology will only increase in the joint all-domain connected battlespace of the future.

In fact, a 2021 study by KPMG International for the Space Foundation, which included input from more than 20 high-level space and defense experts, concluded that space will define the future of national security for the foreseeable future.    

That’s why it’s important that the U.S. maintain and expand its edge in the space domain to shape the strategic environment  as space becomes more contested. Moreover, the reimergence of great power competition has transformed space into a distict warfighting domain.   In particular, China and Russia continue to expand their military presence in space and develop counter-space assets to deter U.S and allies, in a 21st century version of the space race. For example, in recent years, both countries have  successfully tested  anti-satellite (ASAT) weapon programs, a clear demonstration of means to extend a potential conflict to space.

Working with prime contractors and leading technology companies like Honeywell Aerospace, the DOD is transforming its space enterprise to address the rapidly changing strategic environment. Efforts include maturing the U.S. Space Force and improving DOD’s ability to deliver the full range of space capabilities to the warfighter.

The Space Development Agency (SDA) will continue to play a critical role in helping DOD realize a world in which the space domain is secure, stable and accessible. The SDA leverages commercial developments to deliver capabilities to DOD and the services in less time and at less cost. The agency focuses on seven key capability layers including transport, battle management, tracking, custody, emerging capabilities, navigation and support.

Honeywell is a technology leader and strategic partner supporting the DOD, Space Force, SDA, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), other government agencies, and prime contractors. For more than six decades, Honeywell innovations have been helping military commanders leverage our nation’s presence in space to achieve their missions and protect warfighters in the field.

No one has more experience developing and deploying sophisticated, rugged and ultra-reliable systems and components for satellites and launch vehicles. Satellite systems and sensors provide the military with global positioning, communications, surveillance and tracking, and other essential capabilities. We pioneered satellite stabilization and navigation systems that control orbit and attitude in space. And our technologies enable higher levels of situational awareness to allow satellites to maneuver freely and safely in orbit.

We’re working on a number of new technologies that will help the U.S. and its allies maintain a leadership position in the space domain. For example, we’re working with the SDA and several partners (York, Ball and Skyloom) on Optical Inter-Satellite Link (OISL) ecosystem technologies that use lasers to enable two-way communications between satellites in orbit and between satellites and the ground.

These are exciting times as we begin what can legitimately be called “the new space age.” Space-based technologies benefit and inspire humanity every day, in thousands of ways. Honeywell is proud to be an active member of the defense and space community and to support efforts to maintain and build on the superior position the U.S. and our allies enjoy in the space domain. We’re committed to doing our part to secure the high ground in space. 

Brad Westphal
Vice President, Defense & Space