A Global Positioning System satellite. Credit: U.S. Air Force

WASHINGTON —  The Pentagon is creating a new advisory group to provide impartial advice and insights on space technology, innovation and strategy, according to an April 4 memo from Deputy Defense Secretary David Norquist.

According to the memo, a Space Advisory Committee will be created under the Defense Innovation Board, a panel of business leaders, scholars, entrepreneurs and technologists led by Eric Schmidt, former executive chairman of Alphabet. The chair of the space committee will be Mark Sirangelo, a scholar at the University of Colorado and former chief executive of Sierra Nevada Corporation’s Space Systems.

Norquist directed Undersecretary of Defense for Research and Engineering Mike Griffin to establish the space committee no later than April 30, said the memo, a copy of which was obtained by SpaceNews.

It will be “important for senior leaders to have access to and benefit from the independent, external perspective of the broader space community, including wise counsel from industry, academia, and other U.S. government stakeholders to help identify and address current and future challenges and opportunities in space,” says the memo.

Although the United States has historically held a technological advantage in space, “potential adversaries are now advancing their space capabilities and actively developing ways to deny our use of space in a crisis or conflict,” the memo says. “Shortfalls within existing and planned space systems will affect the U.S. ability to counter emerging electronic warfare, kinetic, and cyber threats.”

DoD has responded to these challenges by creating the U.S. Space Force as a new armed service, the U.S. Space Command as a unified combatant command, and the Space Development Agency, the memo says. Additionally, the secretary of the Air Force is “driving a number of acquisition reform efforts, both to strengthen innovation and accelerate the delivery of new military space capabilities.”

As these new organizations get stood up, DoD leaders want to receive “independent advice on strategic, organizational, and technological issues,” says the memo. Specific areas DoD wants the committee to address:

  • Current and future challenges and opportunities in space as a new warfighting domain.
  • The value and implications of technologies being developed for space, both in the United States and worldwide.
  • Ensuring DoD leaders are current on commercial space innovation, the full spectrum of industries and sectors that are the future of space, and best practices to organize, train and equip the force.

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...