U.S. President Joseph Biden (right) talks with Philippine President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. at the White House, May 1. Credit: The Presidential Communications Office of the Philippines

SEOUL, South Korea — The United States has agreed with the Philippines to strengthen cooperation on space situational awareness and space-based maritime domain awareness in the latest series of actions Washington has taken to strengthen ties with Asia-Pacific countries to counter China.

The two countries also agreed to hold the first U.S.-Philippines Civil Space Dialogue this year to boost bilateral space cooperation.

These are part of a broader set of security, economic, technological, and educational cooperation agreements reached during the May 1 summit between President Joe Biden and Philippine President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. at the White House.

“The United States and the Philippines will strengthen bilateral cooperation on space situational awareness and the use of space for maritime domain awareness, including through the first-ever U.S.-Philippines Civil Space Dialogue,” the White House said in a May 1 statement. It did not tell when the space dialogue would occur and other details. The statement added that the two countries would collaborate on using space-based technology in a range of areas, including disaster management, emergency response, healthcare, mapping of resources, and pollution monitoring.

In a joint statement, the two leaders said they would “prioritize and strengthen bilateral space cooperation,” with details to be discussed in the upcoming Civil Space Dialogue. The two leaders also agreed to strengthen cooperation on the Landsat Program, including the possibility for the Philippines to download imagery directly from Landsat satellites to its ground stations. The Landsat Program is a NASA/USGS-backed mission whose first satellite, Landsat 1, was launched in 1972, and represents the longest continuously acquired space-based global record of the Earth’s surface. The most recent satellite for the mission, Landsat 9, was launched in September 2021 on an Atlas 5 rocket from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California.

In a May 5 speech at a forum in Washington, the Philippine leader said such bilateral cooperation will help “establish our own geospatial database and equip us to move towards strengthening science-based policy-making in our country.” He also expressed hope that his country would conduct joint research with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and join NASA’s Asia Air Quality Program.

The Philippines is the latest Asian country the U.S. has agreed to expand cooperation in space, particularly in space situational awareness, a critical capability to ensure peaceful and sustainable use of outer space. 

On April 26, Biden had a summit with South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol at the White House, during which the two leaders agreed to advance bilateral space situational awareness cooperation. The two countries also agreed to enhance cooperation on other space activities, ranging from lunar exploration to Earth science

Japan is Washington’s key partner in Asia. The two nations have signed a series of agreements to support their respective space activities, ranging from space situational awareness to space exploration to lunar exploration

Park Si-soo covers space industries in South Korea, Japan and other Asian countries. Park worked at The Korea Times — South Korea's leading English language newspaper — from 2007 to 2020. He earned a master’s degree in science journalism from Korea...