Commercial Spacepower and the Next Space Age

Commercial space Power and the next Space Age In the United States Private Industry Plays a critical role in keeping America's space aspirations Aloft This has created both opportunities and Challenges as the US government and the Private sector try to chart a path Forward together into the heavens This panel unpacks the Technologies the American public and private sectors are Sending into space the incentives that Bring them together and sometimes drive Them apart Let's please give a warm welcome to this Distinguished and very admirable panel Our moderator Ryan Evans CEO of Bedrock Learning and founder of War on the rocks General James H Dickinson Commander United States space force Mandy Vaughn CEO and founder of gxo Incorporated And Dr John Plum assistant secretary of Defense for space Policy Department of Defense thank you Ryan over to you Thanks so much Cameron and thanks to TechCrunch for having us I'll just tell You a little bit more about our Impressive panel uh John is the first Assistant secretary of defense for space Policy uh and that role he's responsible For overall supervision of space War Fighting policy for the defense Department so no no big deal here he

Also includes his policy portfolio also Includes cyber missile defense and Electromagnetic Warfare but adding that All into your title probably would have Made it a little too unwieldy Mandy Vaughn is the CEO and co-founder Of gxo Inc which she started to Accelerate the pace of chains across the Space industry she's our representative Of Industry on this panel she's also on The National Space council's user Advisory Council and the defense science Board and has a really great career in Space before that going back years uh General Jim Dickinson is the commander Of U.S space command he's responsible For defending U.S and Ally interest in The space domain while providing space Enabled combat effects to the military Worldwide so really impressive group and John I'd like to start with you how are You and your colleagues at the defense Department working to make it easier and More attractive for companies to work With the defense department companies That have important space technology and What are the hurdles still in the way I Understand you have a new strategy in The works yes well first of all thanks Ryan and thanks to TechCrunch for Setting this up it's great to be part of This event with my friends here uh I'll Just say from the top space is Absolutely essential for the Department

Of Defense it is we say it's in our DNA Every single Mission every single day Whether it's peacetime crisis or Conflict is using space to help deliver That and uh therefore it's essential for Us to be able to move uh at speed not Something we're always known to do and More cost effectively not something We're always known to do and I think That's where we really see the Attractiveness of uh harnessing Commercial space to also be used for the Department right commercial space is an Economic driver and it's an innovation Driver and now that space is Democratized It's not just us and Russia and maybe China right all sorts of players people In this room people watching uh can be Part of the space Beast and the fact That all this Innovation is happening How can we move its speed for that we Think that it really will help us in Particular for resilience purposes and Different missionaries have you know Different advantages that we're looking At I am in fact my office is leading a Commercial space integration strategy That's the first of its kind for the Department and it really just shows how The department is seized with getting After this and and getting it right I will say on hurdles there's a couple Things and I like to think of them in

Two different buckets one is Bureaucratic hurdles And that's Kind of what you think about red tape And the different pieces that we could Probably solve with some bureaucratic Changes uh over classification problems Are one Uh and you know just amount of effort it Takes maybe for a commercial company to Get through the door but the other part Is A sort of a mismatch or a difference Between what we need from space and what Commercial industry does our Requirements are not just for peacetime They're also for conflict and so if you Just think about cyber security we need Rigid cyber security if we want to be Able to rely on satellite constellation To be there in a conflict when we Anticipate you know it to be attacked in Cyber and that is different than a Commercial business model and so that's A tension we're dealing with That's great it's really interesting and We'll dig into that a little more uh General Dickinson you really where the Rubber meets the road when it comes to Space and military power and as you face An environment space has become more Congested contested and competitive how Are you looking at Partnerships with Companies in ways that might be

Different from the way we did things in The past well very good well first Thanks Ryan and TechCrunch for having me Today this is an honor for me to to be Sitting here on the stage was two Esteemed colleagues John Plum and Mandy Good to see you Um again honored to be here representing 18 000 service members around the world That are doing space command missions And so as we all think about that Through this week just remember those Great service men and women that are Serving around the world each and every Day in some very remote locations that Are doing all things space for our great Nation but to your point on our to your Question on commercial commercial Integration commercial partnership for U.S space command is vital to what we do Each and every day there are three areas That I'll touch on very briefly in my Opening remarks here the first is to Talk a little bit about three areas that We partner with the commercial industry One is our commercial integration cell That we have just down the road here Just down the coast at Vandenberg space Force Base it's a commercial integration Cell that's focused primarily on Satellite Communications we started that Back in about 2015 with six Partners at That time since then we've expanded it To 10. and so very important

Relationship that we have there working Side by side with these great a Commercial satellite communication Companies and the interesting thing with That is well the information sharing That we do with those companies is vital To space operations quite frankly it Allows us to do safe and secure and Responsible behaviors in space because We're synchronizing our efforts with Them each and every day that's one the Second one is relatively new our joint Commercial operation cell that we have In Colorado Springs Colorado at a place Called The Catalyst campus this Relationship has to do with space domain Awareness so we work very closely with Up to now 28 companies that provide that Service or those capabilities and Capacity quite frankly to U.S space Commands so this is our ability to Leverage the commercial sector to look Up and tell us what they can see in the Space domain and as we all can admit in Here space is a pretty big place Understanding what happens in that Domain is critical not only for what we Do in the military but also in the Commercial sector and the Civil sector So as we watch as that domain becomes Much more congested over the last few Years and continuing to do so as we Watch some of these great achievements That are happening both in the military

And civil sectors we're watching how Important that is that we pull all of Our capabilities together to be able to Look up and describe what's happening This cell out there I said it has 28 Companies right now and growing we also Have a great participation by our allies And partners in that particular area We've got nine countries right now that Are participating with us in that space Domain awareness Mission set supported By the commercial industry and we have Six more countries that are willing and Interested to join the team as well so As we look to expand that of course We're working very closely hand in hand With uh SSC space systems command just Down the road in Los Angeles in terms of Helping us bring on Commercial Partners It's critical to what we do then the Third and the final one is an area that We work very closely with all of our Allies and partners in academic Institutions and Commercial as well is Our space situational sharing agreements And so we have over 180 of those right Now that we have signed and are working Closely with those countries academic Institutions and allies and partners and This is a great opportunity for us to Share share information look at Operations in space all with the theme Of coming back to doing making sure that We have a safe secure and stable space

Domain environment in which to operate And so those are areas that we're Growing very rapidly in and I just like To highlight you know the academic Institution part of that you know 108 Over 180 SSA sharing agreements 130 of Those a little more than 130 are with Commercial Partners but the balance of That are with some of these great Commercial countries and our Allied Partner Nations as well as academic Institutions not only in the United States but all around the world so those Are three areas Ryan that we're working Very closely with the commercial Industry right now Mandy looking at your bio it's just Incredible the depth of expertise you Have in the space industry I don't think I've met anyone that has more experience In the space industry than the Commercial specifically and um So you're the perfect person to ask this Question too what are you hearing from Industry in terms of uh what the defense Department is doing and is it changing Enough is it changing fast enough what Remains to be done is industry happy or I know that's a big question but an Industry is of course not one monolithic Thing but of course it is just like the Department of defenses too right Um but I'll first answer that by saying One note of context that what the

General just referenced here from space Situation awareness and space domain Awareness is is one facet as I'm looking Across industry to answer that question I'm also looking at the combat services And combat support missions that also Address the rest of the department So from that regard it is one where a Lot of work is going on within the Department that's changing the rhetoric They're talking about a much more Nuanced approach in terms of what is Commercial and how does it integrate Into these Mission sets but there's Still a pretty fundamental disconnect Between what is that rhetoric and what's In the RFP And what is the addressable chunk of the Budget that this sector can actually go After so when you really kind of look at Where is the priority Um I think it's one where it's easy to Say okay if like I can look at the Budget and I can tell you what the Priorities are and from there we're just Not moving the needle so I think there's Some more fundamental things that we Really need to think about in terms of What are institutional changes that we Need to make in the department through The entire life cycle of a program to Really think about how do we integrate Commercial capabilities and and these Capacities in a more truly integrated

Fashion This line of demarcation that commercial Is this thing on the side that will Sometimes use as an augmentation is Inherently in a limitation so what we Need to try to do is how do we wrestle Through finding that impedance match how Do we learn how to trust each other and Part of that trust is a cyber Baseline But how do we practice train equip our Soldier Sailors Airmen and Guardians in Terms of using these capabilities as Part of their everyday Mission so then When there is a crisis it's already in Place so how do we change our thinking In terms of of what is that enduring Relationship That we can have this dialogue start now And find that impedance match well it's A good thing we have the guy leading Policy on this sitting right next to you So maybe you guys can compare now we'll Arm wrestle after this so yeah Well John what do you think about that So I think uh Manny makes a lot of good Points I'll just say on that last part About integrating commercial uh space Players my office just ran a tabletop Exercise with quite a few commercial Stakeholders and that is actually one of Our takeaways is that if we're going to Use things uh we actually need to make Sure that we're integrating The Operators of the of the commercial side

In to some of our exercises so they Understand how we might call on them so I think it's a really good point and uh I take your point on the RFP piece which I happily have nothing to do with so I'm Happy to notch that one up but no There's a lot to do I think what we were Just discussing this before the panel uh The department is focused on this there Is interest there is innovation to be Harnessed but it's not like after this Panel everything is going to be fixed Right but things are growing we're Writing a strategy space force has got a Strategy coming the department is Pushing on this in a lot of ways and we It's going to take a little time but I Do think it's headed in the right Direction it's not as fast as some might Like John Dickinson we were speaking on the Phone recently he said something that I Thought was really interesting about how You look at layering different Commercial capabilities so you're not Necessarily just dependent on one I know You you could say it better than I can But could you tell the audience about That because I thought you did pretty Good I yeah so I mean you know the question Becomes do we ever see where we'll be Totally commercial totally military in How we approach uh you know operations

In the space domain and I would tell you I think it's a a balanced and layered Approach I think it's a balance that We're looking we just talked about how You bring them in to tabletop exercises Or operations and uh and we're we're Doing that every day with the commercial Partners I just described and we're Learning a lot but I think there is no One you know commercial capability that Will sort of hang our hat on it'll be a Balance of commercial capabilities and Military capabilities because I think There'll be some areas where we'll say Hey that that could be predominantly Commercial and I think some areas will Look that probably needs to be Predominantly military but striking that Balance is I think where we're at right Now with a new policy coming out at uh At the Department of Defense we we have Our own command level commercial Integration strategy that we published Back in April of 2022 and we had to do That in response of this really quite Frankly uh Very positive interest in expanding our Commercial partners and quite frankly we Had to figure out how to bring everybody On in a framework that was organized Balanced and we were able to to Integrate them and bring them on the Team as needed as they desired so I do Think it's a balanced and it's a layered

Approach to how we uh absolutely Integrate commercial Partners into the Team This question is really for all of you As we've seen this explosion of interest And resourcing and new institutions uh When it comes to space and the defense Department military power our allies Have have all sort of followed our lead On that and have made their own exciting Investments in space and their own new Institutions uh particularly in Europe But also elsewhere and what's going on Ukraine really illustrates how important These you know interoperability is and How these things talk to each other and Work together and uh maybe uh John and General Dickinson could speak to how That's going on the government to Government military to military side but I'd also like to hear from you Mandy is Is this internationalization also Happening in Industry as well and what Are the challenges to doing business With different Countries when you're a company based in Country a and not country B even if They're an Allied country Well from my perspective uh uh again There's tremendous energy in our allies In terms of uh being part of the space Enterprise being part of the space team We have seen you know multiple countries Around the world uh stand up their own

Equivalent to U.S space command and in Terms of their own space force as well And so as we look at that you know I Think when I first took command we only Had two or three countries that had Formalized their space command and now I Think we're up don't quote me but you Might probably eight or nine now that Have that equivalency and so that's from The military side they absolutely Understand and see the importance of Space Not only to their economies not Only to their citizens but they see how Important it is to their military Operations and there are our combined Military operations so there's been just A great over the last four years Understanding increase of awareness and Advocacy on the military side what I am Seeing in these countries as well is Because a lot of these countries Countries have their own space Commercial space industry as part of Their economy and they're seeing at the How powerful those particular companies Are in terms of supporting some of their Mission areas and doing their own Internal Commercial integration processes and so As I mentioned earlier we were talking About the jco We and our SSA sharing agreements we Have seen where there's more than 30 Different companies around the world

Outside of the United States that are Willing to be part of that SSA sharing Agreement space situational awareness Sharing agreements that I mentioned Earlier so to me that's powerful that is A powerful advantage that we as a whole We as the United States as well as Around the world are pulling this Together and we've seen this in other Domains in terms of how powerful it is The commercial and the allies and Partners are to our Collective Mission Success So I guess I'd say uh so you said Interoperability Ryan and I think when I Hear that word I feel like that's a Pretty high bar there's also just Coordinated effects or coordinated Operations Which is a lesser included thing but can Be just as effective in a lot of pieces So you might want to have interoperable Satcom so you can talk to each other Through the same constellation but you Might not need that for other particular Mission areas but I would say that it's A thing we're all trying to get after And it is hard because space is Weirdly new in this Arena I mean we do We do Alliance operations or coordinator Operations other countries multinational Task force for air for land for seed no Problem space is harder uh one of the Reasons it's harder is the

Classification problem which kind of Just keeps rearing its head which is if I can't talk to you at the Classification level of the data then That's really hard to do these type of Things so we're working on it we're Working on it uh at cispo as well so not Just bilaterally different allies where Sometimes those Solutions are easier but To do a multilateral piece uh with a Combined space operations group that Both General Dickinson and I are part of So I'll add just a little bit of of Color and some food for thought here as We kind of look at what the future may Hold too but one thing to kind of think Through with current events and some of The Lessons Learned with with Ukraine is Really also that Between the communications architecture As well as a lot of the ISR the the the Geoen the pictures that you're seeing About Ukraine a lot of these Relationships with commercial operators This was all born out of crisis So there were some arrangements but for The most part it's like okay we've got a Huge issue now what are we going to do About it and a couple things we need to Think about is in as we're looking at What is kind of over the next 10 years What could be that run-up to crisis It probably won't be this as clear of a Line of demarcation as it was with

Ukraine right We already see it in the Cyber domain That there's there's contested congested Space operations things are going to be Always a little bit gray a little bit Uncertain a little bit hard to attribute And maybe understand and a little bit Escalatory so how do we respond with Those kinds of technical surprises If it's a much more gray kind of Conflict that we're trying to deal with So I think that's one thing that goes Back to my earlier point on kind of this Line of demarcation with commercial that Again we need to have that enduring Relationship now to practice and figure Out how do we trust each other so if We're confronted with a scenario that is A lot more gray and confusing we're Already on the same page And I think another thing that we really Need to think about as a community is in All of these circumstances we tend to Hear the government folks talk about Commercial as unclassified Right and that certainly is the case Maxar's data is on the front page of the Washington Post because it is an Unclassified picture what have you But does the entire nature of the Relationship have to be that way and Then what is the information and what do We gain from that aggregate picture back To you in your command centers to have a

Better understanding of what is probably Ground truth right so I think there's a A more nuanced way that we need to think About how does this information sharing Really go and to confound the problem is We're all in the theater together right Whether it's a DOD Satellite or an nro satellite or a Commercial satellite we're all in the Theater together we're all experiencing The effects together we all have to Cooperate whether we're in the conflict Or not so it's a it's a very different Discussion about our own roles as this Community that I think we need to think Through for what I think will be a much More muddled kind of next 10 years in Terms of what's Happening whether it's Cooperative or not yeah can I just I Think it's interesting you said that About uh unclassified or not the one You know the flip side of that is if It's unclassified then we don't have any Of those information sharing problems Which is why you see it on the watch Which is why that so it's there's a Tension there as well that we haven't Kind of wrestled through which is some Things can be classified but the more we Can do or share at the unclassified Level the less uh bureaucratic overhead There is to to get in the way good point Mandy uh some space companies are Already very important and Powerful

Actors on the world stage in their own Right and you know the example it's Front of mind for everyone is of course SpaceX and recent news about starlink Access in support of a Ukrainian attack That was planning to go into Crimea and Apparently Elon Musk did not agree for That coverage to be extended but also He's provided starlink access to Ukrainian the Ukrainian Armed Forces for Their own targeting and their own Territory uh although Crimea is still Part of Ukraine but we're not to get too Far into that but I don't want you to Speak to that example but I think it's a Really good example of a larger Phenomenon that's increasingly going to Become perhaps problematic is Come private companies having such Immense power over things that used to Be the territory of governments almost Exclusively and how is industry thinking About this how are you thinking about This how do you think government should Be thinking about this Um a big one I know yeah um how do I Stay out off of Twitter on this one Um X sorry Um I think it goes back to the the earlier Point too just on what is that point of Demarcation and what is the relationship That you have with the providers now When you don't need it when it's not a

Conflict Again part of where I think we Ran into a problem with with Ukraine was Because it was born out of Crisis Everyone on both sides was trying to Figure out what do I do with this And there was no control that the Department could exert so if we have a Contractual relationship now and then Maybe with other providers so it's not That we only have one solution that we Can bring to bear then we're playing Into exactly the point of resiliency That a hybrid architecture is inherently More resilient if you have the access to Every commercial provider at that time Of need then It wouldn't be such a profound impact if There's one weird Solution One weird Problem Again I think it just goes back to that Level of trust and practice So how do we think through what would The department have needed to have a Place first to where you could have Compelled them to be part of the team And let's think through that Do you two have anything to add to that Without looking at that specific Instance but that General point is Really what we're looking at with our Commercial space integration strategy is Like I said at the top If the department is interested in Commercial space it's not just for

Peacetime and so how do we is there a Contractual mechanism for example that We can then rely on it being available To us in a crisis or conflict is a Really important part of this and again This is new and is being partially born Out of the Ukraine situation And I just I would just add on that uh Yeah I agree we have to have that Relationship well before we get to a Point like we saw in Ukraine and Russia So that building of confidence building Of trust understanding you know what Capabilities that can be provided and How those are integrated into our Concept of operations and our daily Operations is is critical so I've Great well my last last question and you Know we're at disrupt what make it from Each of your own perspectives uh to the Founders in the room and prospective Founders why should they be building Space companies that seek to work with The defense department Well I'll start off I think space is Pretty exciting and I think everybody in This room and probably watching believes That as well not only from a military Perspective but certainly from a Commercial and civil perspective I get Excited when we talk about Artemis going Back to the moon and Beyond uh you know U.S space command actually has has some Uh

Have some actions some missions that we Do to support NASA and other other civil Organizations as well and so I think you Know we should be excited because space Is uh you know not the next Frontier I Think we're already there and so uh it's Exciting to be part of that it's Exciting to be the commander of us Space Commander in this period of time and I Think nothing but optimism in terms of What we're seeing in the future I think it's it's really kind of the Motivation in terms of not just tech for Tech's sake but it is a clear example of How can you create a mission that Matters How do you do something that either goes In or through or enabled by space that Either that really can profoundly impact The planet whether it's something from Just Economic tools climate change climate Awareness or actually being able to take That picture that can go on to the Washington Post these are all things That really link Humanity in a way That's very very different and to be Able to start a company that can play in That sector but then have a relationship On the government side to where you can Understand how can you increase the Effectivity of what that is is pretty Powerful I think my challenge to to the Panelists here is how do we really

Broaden that aperture and and bring more Of that kind of ecosystem into the fold Because it's one I think we all know It's like how well can we really learn From each other to just really Accelerate that pace of changes is is Quite impressive So let me just give you a personal kind Of vignette which is that during President Obama's administration I Worked in the space policy office as the Acting Dynasty for a little while and so That was about 12 years ago 10 years ago And it was a stovepipe Nobody paid much attention to it they Did good work we produced some great Generals out of it but it was a small Little group that kind of did its own Thing this is 10 years later people Cannot get enough of space the Department cannot get enough of space The Congress created my position because Of the recognition that space is now so Important to National Security International offense and that message Has now Spread through the department and so What that means is Uh the department now understands at the Highest echelons and down to the lower Echelons that space is essential and I Think that opens up this opportunity for More uh commercial integration that Simply didn't exist before because the

Realization wasn't there and perhaps the Necessity wasn't there so we are a Little bit slower our budget processes Are slower but this is building and the Understanding is there and so I would Say yes it is worth working with us and Please give us a shot yeah and John You're you're a Navy veteran right I am How does space force feel about uh Navy Guy having this job we're all it's all It's all one team one fight right team One fight great well please give our Amazing panelists a round of applause That was wonderful and um Thank you And thanks to TechCrunch and we will be Revisiting some of these issues on a Panel that I'm also moderating on the Same stage and a little little bit later On the Venture Capital world in the Pentagon so again thank you very much


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