WASHINGTON — The Space Information Sharing and Analysis Center, or Space ISAC, is forming a group to focus on the security threats the United States could face in cislunar space outside Earth orbit.

“Cislunar space is of growing interest to the world with the launch of the Artemis Accords,” the Space ISAC said Feb. 28. 

Based in Colorado Springs, the nonprofit Space ISAC was founded in 2019 to facilitate collaboration across the space industry to prepare for and respond to cyberattacks and other threats.

Under the new initiative, called cislunar affinity group, experts will identify challenges, recommend solutions “and define the broader role of government in cislunar space,” said the Space ISAC. 

 “The idea with this group is to provide a collaborative platform to known cislunar stakeholders, as well as potential stakeholders. There are many actors, while not yet actively involved, that are expressing interest and recognizing that they will have a role to play in cislunar space and the return to the moon,” said Gabrielle Hedrick, aerospace engineer at MITRE Corp., a corporate member of the Space ISAC.

“We also intend to raise awareness on the need for solutions in cislunar space in communities not traditionally turned towards cislunar, like cybersecurity and the information sharing of vulnerabilities, incidents, and threats,” said Hedrick.

Most current activities in cislunar space are led by NASA, the European Space Agency and Japan. Interest is growing among other nations, including China, India, Russia and the United Arab Emirates which are planning missions beyond Earth orbit.

That region of space also is of interest to the Defense Department and the U.S. intelligence community as countries seek access to lunar resources and stake out areas of jurisdiction. 

The Air Force Research Laboratory’s Space Vehicles Directorate plans to launch an experiment in 2025 to track objects in cislunar space. 

Credit: AFRL

Sensors used by the military for space domain awareness were designed to track satellites in Earth orbits, at distances of 36,000 kilometers or closer, and not for cislunar space which extends out 385,000 kilometers and has different orbital trajectories. Scientists have pointed out that most activities in cislunar space are largely unmonitored and only self-reported

The Space ISAC said the cislunar affinity group will work with companies currently involved in establishing sustained presence on the moon and with government agencies to “exchange ideas, and identify needs and gaps in cislunar space.” The goal is to “close the gap between government and commercial companies who are already on their way to the moon.”

Space ISAC founding members include Kratos, Booz Allen Hamilton, Deloitte, MITRE, SES, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Parsons, Purdue University, the Space Dynamics Laboratory, the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, The Aerospace Corporation, the University of Colorado Colorado Springs, Microsoft, and L3Harris.

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...