Space Agenda 2021: Section Two

Space exploration, development, and security are increasingly important elements of national policy and strategy. Inevitably, the presidential term starting in 2021 will include the need for many high-level decisions on space-related issues. Aerospace has created a series of discussion papers—Space Agenda 2021—on topics already at the forefront, or likely to emerge, in the next few years.

Space Agenda 2021 Overview


Chapters released October 6, 2020. 


GPS-III Launch SpaceX

Airspace Integration in an Era of Growing Launch Operations

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by Rob Unverzagt

Accommodating space launches in the National Airspace System (NAS) is burdensome, but at historical launch rates it is manageable. However, it is expected that launch rates will increase substantially, with the preponderance of that increase coming from commercial customers. This will require better integration of space launch activities in the NAS. This paper presents the issues and highlights potential conflicts between the “space side” and the “air side” that may call for intervention from high-level decisionmakers.


collage of Arctic and space imagery

The Arctic: Space-based Solutions to Infrastructure and National Security Needs

by Karen Jones and Lina Cashin

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An overview of U.S. Arctic policy and national interests and describes how commercial satellite services can provide domain awareness to observe and adapt to the region’s rapidly changing conditions. While geopolitical tension is rising in the Arctic, stakeholders will benefit from sharing satellite data with each other and the public. Sharing can enhance operations, establish greater transparency and accountability, and strengthen a common rule-based order.


Networking around the World

Organizing for Defense Space: Balancing Support for the Joint Force and Independent Space Operations

by Russell Rumbaugh, Peter Hays, & Mick Gleason

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The United States Space Force is arguably the largest restructure of U.S. defense space organizations since 1960. The reorganization also includes United States Space Command (USSPACECOM), the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Space Acquisition and Integration, and other new organizations. Being new, these organizations face many challenges—and how they address these challenges will define the tools that are available to senior political and military leaders for years to come. Despite the historic nature of the moment, there are lessons to be learned from these organizations’ predecessors. Those lessons highlight that the greatest tension these organizations will face is how to balance the spacebased needs of the joint force against independent military operations in, to, and through space.


Digital Satellite Cyber Quantum Stock 2

A Roadmap for Assessing Space Weapons

by Mick Gleason & Peter Hays

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Given advances in the space weapon capabilities of China and Russia, and the United States Space Force’s priority to project military power in, from, and to space, the United States needs a new debate on the merits of fielding U.S. space weapons. Since the last debate, the strategic context has changed dramatically, invalidating many of the previous debate’s core assumptions and primary alternatives. Thinking about space weapons cannot remain frozen in Cold War or post-Cold War era analysis and debates. The roadmap offered here will help the United States fully assess the merits of deploying space weapons, the best mix of space weapons, and how their development should be prioritized. The Department of Defense (DOD) cannot do it alone. The complexities of the issue require a whole-ofgovernment approach with contributions from academia, industry, and other partners.


AdobeStock_Satellite Signal (Revised)

Space-Based Solar Power: A Near-Term Investment Decision

by James Vedda & Karen Jones

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The concept of space-based solar power, also referred to as solar power satellites (SPS), has been evolving for decades. In 1968, Dr. Peter Glaser of Arthur D. Little, Inc. introduced the concept using microwaves for power transmission from geosynchronous orbit (GEO) to an Earth-based rectifying antenna (rectenna). Since then, technology has advanced on several fronts to remove some of the technological and economic barriers to practical full-scale implementation. U.S. decisionmakers are now facing a pivotal moment as several countries continue to invest in this promising, game-changing technology. This paper discusses the history of SPS, a few leading innovators, key functional components, and market applications. Ultimately, the United States must decide whether and how to invest in SPS to optimize the various operational, competitive, and societal benefits that this type of application offers to commercial, defense, and civilian markets.

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