Military space chiefs from 15 countries gather amid mounting security concerns

Raymond: “We will focus on how to mature our partnerships”

COLORADO SPRINGS — The United States will host the third meeting of international military space chiefs in Colorado Springs this week.

“We will focus on how we mature our partnerships,” said US Space Force chief of space operations, Gen. John “Jay” Raymond SpaceNews in an interview at the 37th Space Symposium.

The International Chiefs Forum will feature military space leaders from Australia, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Republic of Korea, Sweden, United Kingdom and United States.

Raymond recently visited Australia’s newly formed space command and toured space surveillance sites where US and Australian forces operate side-by-side. He said one of the issues raised by Australia and other allies was the need to evolve current alliances “beyond just partnerships to share data, but to make them really workable”.

“We really want to get to the point where we develop capabilities together,” Raymond said. “And that’s why we will continue these discussions with our closest partners.”

The meeting amid growing concerns about safety and sustainability in space, including the possibility that Russia could repeat the destructive anti-satellite missile test it conducted in November that created a huge cloud of orbiting debris.

“A lot of what we do with our partners is figuring out what responsible standards of behavior are,” Raymond said. Suggestions have been written for what those standards should be, but ultimately “we demonstrate safe and responsible behavior through the way we work,” he said.

“We need to better understand the space realm and that’s why the partnerships in Australia and elsewhere are really important,” he said. “But there is still a lot to do.”

International talks on space security are about to begin by a United Nations-led working group. US officials said it’s unlikely that Russia or China will participate in those talks, but Raymond believes that “like-minded nations” are driving their efforts to promote space security, “continue to show good behavior and hopefully others will follow.”

Future US space architecture could include allies

Raymond said a high priority for the US Space Force is to transition its legacy constellations from “exquisite” satellites to a more diversified architecture that would be harder for adversaries to disrupt.

And that will require us to do things differently,” he said. “We can’t keep acquiring like we’ve always done where you have a handful of large, exquisite satellites.”

A future architecture for space-based communications, for example, should have a mix of exquisite and lower-cost bulk satellites, and could include allied satellites, he said. “I think where you’re going to see us end up is some kind of hybrid architecture that has a mix.”

“When you choose a more widespread architecture, rather than a handful of exquisite capabilities, you open up opportunities for greater commercial collaboration and you open up opportunities for greater collaboration with our allies and partners,” Raymond said.

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