WASHINGTON — The Defense Intelligence Agency released a new report on Monday on the national security challenges the United States faces in outer space. Titled, “Challenges to Security in Space,” the report is written for a layman audience and aims to educate the broader public.
“It is intended to support a deeper public understanding of key space and counterspace issues and inform open dialogue and partner engagement on these challenges,” a DIA spokesman told SpaceNews.
The new report follows one the agency released last month on China’s military power, including its anti-satellite weapons and other counterspace capabilities.
“Challenges to Security in Space” explains why space is a “contested” domain and why other countries might attempt to disrupt U.S. satellites, for instance. The two major challengers discussed in the report are China and Russia. It also mentions Iran and North Korea as countries with emerging space capabilities. The report also includes a section on orbital debris as a significant concern and potential disruptor to future space operations.
“The advantage that the United States holds in space — and our perceived dependence on it — will continue to drive actors to improve their abilities to operate in and through space,” the report says. “Space-based capabilities provide integral support to military, commercial and civilian applications …. Longstanding technological and cost barriers to space are falling, enabling more countries and commercial firms to participate in satellite construction, space launch, space exploration and human spaceflight.”
These advancements are creating new opportunities and risks to space-enabled services, says the DIA. “Having seen the benefits of space-enabled operations, some foreign governments are developing capabilities that threaten others’ ability to use space. China and Russia, in particular have taken steps to challenge the United States.”
The Chinese and Russian developed military doctrines based on the idea that space is essential to modern warfare and counterspace capabilities are key to countering U.S. and allied military advantages, the report says. “Both countries have developed robust and capable space services” including space-based intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, space launch vehicles and satellite navigation constellations.
These capabilities provide the Chinese and Russian militaries with the ability to command and control their forces worldwide with “enhanced situational awareness, enabling them to monitor, track and target U.S. and allied forces,” the report says. “Chinese and Russian space surveillance networks are capable of searching, tracking and characterizing satellites in all earth orbits.” Further, both states are developing jamming and cyberspace capabilities, directed energy weapons, on-orbit capabilities and ground-based anti-satellite missiles that can achieve reversible to non-reversible effects on U.S. space systems.