Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Space Policy Steve Kitay. Credit: DoD

WASHINGTON — The new space race that has propelled advances in science and technology also has had broad implications for national security, DoD points out in a strategy document released June 17.

“Rapid increases in commercial and international space activities worldwide add to the complexity of the space environment,” says the 2020 Defense Space Strategy.

Speaking at a Pentagon news conference, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Space Policy Steve Kitay said commercial space activities have been huge engines of economic growth and opportunity. “The same activities, however, also create challenges in protecting critical technology, ensuring operational security, and maintaining strategic advantages,” says the document.

A rapid expansion of commercial activities in space in recent years — in addition to the emergence of “great power competition” — have drastically changed the space domain, the DoD strategy says. “The actions, intentions, and military strategies of potential adversaries have transformed space into a warfighting domain. In parallel, growth in allied, partner, and commercial space capabilities has added complexity to the space operating environment while creating an unprecedented level of collaborative opportunities.”

Potential adversaries are leveraging technological advancements in the commercial space sector at decreased costs and broader accessibility to expand their space technologies and capabilities, the document says.

The availability of commoditized, off-the-shelf technologies and lower barriers for market entry make for a burgeoning space industry is beneficial to the United States, says the report. “The DoD has an opportunity to leverage innovation and cost-effective investments driven by the private sector, presenting opportunities for collaboration to develop game-changing capabilities with a more streamlined and responsive acquisition process.”

Sandra Erwin writes about military space programs, policy, technology and the industry that supports this sector. She has covered the military, the Pentagon, Congress and the defense industry for nearly two decades as editor of NDIA’s National Defense...