As space becomes increasingly central in military planning and strategy development, what is the current situation and what capabilities (and weaknesses) currently exist?
Since the start of the Space Age, the orbital domain has always been used for military purposes; but in recent times there has been an increasing focus on tactical rather than strategic satellite applications. There has been a shift in military emphasis towards systems that provide wider coverage, more timely information, increased data capacity, and lower latency communications. Nevertheless, these novel military capabilities are now being surpassed by commercial mega-constellations, some of which are providing services that were once exclusively military functions.
For these reasons, space assets have now become targets; a number of nations have demonstrated anti-satellite (ASAT) systems in multiple orbital regimes. In a hostile military environment, both offensive and defensive space operations require highly detailed space domain awareness (SDA) information. This level of SDA is currently in relatively short supply, and as satellite systems start to develop SDA countermeasures, it will become increasingly difficult to acquire.
The lecture will explain the ongoing technical evolution in space systems that will, inevitably, influence future conflicts, and the increasing threats that such systems face. It will make the case that the outcome of future military engagements in orbit will be reliant on SDA which needs to be far better than the limited information that is available today, especially if satellite system designers start to protect their assets by conducting “SDA Warfare”.
In 2018, Stuart Eves founded his own space consultancy company, SJE Space Ltd, after spending 16 years with the UK Ministry Of Defence, and 14 years with Surrey Satellite Technology Limited (SSTL). He has been involved with a wide variety of space missions, including TopSat, which set a satellite world record for “resolution per mass” when it was launched in 2005, and which was featured in the Space Gallery at the Science Museum in London. Stuart’s recent book “Space Traffic Control”, describes the measures needed to maintain the space environment and protect satellites from both natural hazards and man-made threats. He serves on the Advisory Panel for the ESA Space Safety Programme, and is a founder of the GNOSIS network on sustainability in space. He has been involved in a diverse range of media activities on all aspects of space, (including most recently on “SSA Warfare”), and has previously been a recipient of an Arthur Clarke Award for space education and outreach. Stuart has an MSc in Astrophysics, a PhD in satellite constellation design, and has been a fellow of both the Royal Astronomical Society and the British Interplanetary Society for more than 25 years.