News & Media

Event Recap: Navigating Space, a Vision for Space in Defense

Written by: Space Foundation Editorial Team

Space is becoming more congested and contested as new technologies emerge and barriers to entry fall. New players—both emerging space nations and commercial—are vying for advantage. At the same time, humanity’s reliance on space activity is becoming more ingrained by the day. Questions around space security and defense are paramount.

“Navigating Space, a Vision for Space in Defense” was presented virtually on March 3, 2022, by Symposium 365. The webinar featured prominent space community experts to discuss what they think is in store for space defense.

Megan Wenrich, Senior Manager of D.C. Operations for Space Foundation, opened the session with comments regarding the need for the defense sector to reassess its role and protect assets within the ever-changing space ecosystem. Wenrich previously served on the Congressional outreach team at NASA.

She introduced moderator Jacob Hacker, who works with different clients involved in the space sector. Hacker has a background as a military professional and opened the session by acknowledging that he feels we are in an unprecedented time for the space industry. 

Important Considerations for the Discussion of Defense

Steven Isakowitz, President and CEO of the Aerospace Corporation, shared three things to consider when looking at space defense:

  1. China and Russia are developing and accelerating at rates the U.S. might not be able to match. The possibility of national security being at risk is causing the U.S. to have to approach the architectural design of what we are doing in space.
  2. The landscape of space is changing by leaps and bounds due to the progress of artificial intelligence (AI).
  3. There are a series of new commercial players, an inundation of investments, and many international opportunities and allies.

Security in the Space Sector

Kari Bingen, Chief Strategy Officer for HawkEye360, agreed with Isakowitz’s points and added to them. Bingen noted that the accessibility of space and proliferating technology will allow areas that were once “classified space domains” to be open for commercialization. Space is now available in ways it never has been before, thereby increasing the need for security and defense measures. This concept brings on a “convergence of space technology meeting private technology in a way that is unencumbered by government.”

Speed, Bingen noted, is another factor driving the rapid change in space. What used to take years now takes days. This includes the development of satellites. “I come from a community where we measured satellite builds and launches in years. We’re seeing young engineers come into the ecosystem and getting hands-on hardware every three to six months,” Bingen said.

Eric Brown, Senior Director of Mission Strategy for Lockheed Martin Space, stated, “the greatest innovation comes about when something stops seeming innovative now.” This is an integral piece to consider when discussing defense, as communications play a role. Brown shared how communication in the space industry has historically “been a bent pipe” and is now much smoother. 

Making a Point for Defense

Isakowitz noted the concern about adversaries’ space technology growing at a rapid rate, and Brown agreed that this is a problem that must be taken into consideration. Brown mentioned that just four years ago, the idea of space as a war domain was far-fetched, but now is a possibility. 

Isakowitz reiterated the importance of resilient architecture, including satellites and other technology. Standards for space defense cannot be set too early or too late, and in this process, we must develop a robust architecture in order to mitigate risk.

While greater access to space brings risk, there are also rewards.

Mandy Vaugh, CEO and Founder of GXO Inc., stated her belief that everything comes down to trust. As Bingen mentioned, a once government domain is now open to the public. Vaugh added that it is important for the public to trust new technology and politics in this more public domain. 

The relationship between public and private sectors are essential in maintaining an environment in space that is accessible. This accessibility can be symbiotic, as the public can invest in space and help contribute resources for space exploration and development. Meanwhile, they can reap the benefits that space provides to Earth, such as a better understanding of our climate, agriculture and more. 

Commercialization Expands Access

Vaugh hopes for a successful commercial moon landing in the near future. She also hopes to make investments in the space sector public, involving more people in space and continuously making it more accessible. Bingen expanded on this with a question of how to bridge the gap between users and innovators. Most things are possible when these two groups work in unison.

The overall consensus is careful optimism. By recognizing the need for defense and integrating that into the space ecosystem, we can look forward to what is yet to come as a space community.

More From Symposium 365 

If you didn’t get a chance to watch this event live, it was recorded and can be replayed at your convenience. If you want to learn more about the speakers from this event, you can find their biographies here.

Are you interested in learning more about what’s ahead in the space industry and hearing more from space professionals from different companies? You can view the full schedule for events on our website and view previous webinar recordings to ensure you keep up with our future events.