Capitol Hill Event Focuses On The Threat Of Space Weather

Representatives from government and industry convened a panel to discuss the hazards posed by space radiation and the tightening demand for RF spectrum.
radiation belts diagram
Scott Pace
Scott Pace, Executive Secretary of the National Space Council, discusses the challenges of spectrum interference.

A group of experts recently gathered on Capitol Hill for a conversation on how space weather and radio frequency spectrum can have a tremendous effect on the world. The event, Breaking Space: A Discussion on Space Weather Disturbance and Spectrum Interference, featured a panel of experts from NASA, the U.S. Air Force, the White House, the European Space Agency (ESA), and Aerospace. Moderated by Dr. Josef Koller of Aerospace's Center for Space Policy and Strategy, the discussion touched on the challenges space weather presents, along with the opportunities for collaboration and sound policy making.

Keynote speaker Dr. Scott Pace, executive secretary of the National Space Council, described RF spectrum—which wireless technology and systems such as mobile devices, broadcast entertainment, and WiFi rely on and are increasingly consuming—as being like oxygen, in that you don't notice it until you are running out. Fellow keynote speaker Jennifer A. Manner, senior vice president for regulatory affairs at EchoStar Corporation, added that neither the formal nor informal processes in place to handle spectrum issues are ready to deal with the bad actors who threaten spectrum use.

Space Weather and National Security

Ralph Stoffler, the Air Force's director of weather, discussed the national security questions, both offensive and defensive, posed by space weather disruptions. And Juha-Pekka Luntama, space weather manager for ESA, shared that ESA handles space weather and other space situational awareness issues together, illustrating the different models for policy and cooperation that might be considered in a future that will rely more on space-based and wireless technology.

weather symposium
CSPS's Josef Koller introduces the space weather panel.

A video recording of this event is available on Aerospace’s Facebook profile, and a full list of speakers and related resources, including policy papers, can be found on the Breaking Space event page.