ORS Director Urges More Milspace Collaboration with U.S. Allies

by

WASHINGTON — Peter Wegner, director of the Pentagon’s Operationally Responsive Space (ORS) office, would like to see more collaboration between the United States and its allies on military space programs. He says the could reap diplomatic and economic dividends if it were to take leadership roles on joint military space programs much as it already does in the civil space arena and even on some weapons programs.

More international collaboration stands to advance the state of the art in space technology, develop a broader market for the space industrial base and attract a new generation of workers to the industry, Wegner said in a Jan. 27 interview.

To foster this type of close collaboration with traditional allies, the ORS office is developing a strategy for future international partnerships.

“I’ve believed for a long time space is an important tool in international diplomacy,” Wegner said. “There are a lot of nations around the world that want to have deeper collaboration with the government in space. We don’t do a very good job of that in this country.”

Most major NASA programs include at least some international contributions, usually in the form of spacecraft instruments.

And while the Pentagon often works with allies on jet fighters and other combat systems, such collaboration generally has not happened in the military space arena.

“In the aircraft world, we do a very good job in international collaboration on things like the F-16 or the F-35 aircraft, and then we develop really exquisite capabilities like the F-22 that we don’t generally export,” Wegner said. “We really don’t have that same diversity in the market for space.”

Since it was stood up two years ago, the ORS office has worked with some of the ‘ closest allies. Last year the ORS office and Air Force Space and did some tasking and dissemination experiments with the Canadian Radarsat-2 satellite, and it also has collaborated on some work with the U.K. Ministry of Defence’s TopSat imaging satellite.

Wegner said the ORS office currently is pursuing a technology-sharing agreement with , which has developed microelectric mechanical systems that could be useful to the type of small, tactical spacecraft the ORS office is focused on building.

Wegner is hopeful U.S. President Barack Obama’s call for renewed international engagement will foster more of this type of collaboration.

“Any agreements we make must be consistent with diplomatic strategies in the different regions and countries in the world,” he said. “The Obama space policies have been very aggressive and strong on the idea of using space as a diplomatic tool.”