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News | Feb. 2, 2023

Shaw discusses the need for Dynamic Space Operations at the National Security Space Association’s 2023 Defense and Industry Space Conference

By Staff Report U.S. Space Command

U.S. Space Command deputy commander Lt. Gen. John Shaw recently delivered a keynote address at the National Security Space Association’s 2023 Defense and Industry Space Conference on Jan. 24, 2023.
During his address, Shaw reflected on the limits of current on-orbit capabilities within the command’s astrographic Area of Responsibility and the need to develop future space systems and architectures that allow maneuver without regret.
“DoD’s geosynchronous satellites designed decades ago were intended to remain static and perform minimum maneuvers to preserve fuel,” Shaw explained. “But now that rival nations are launching satellites with ambiguous intent, we’d like to move around and look at many things in the geosynchronous sphere as much as we possibly can. Not having freedom to maneuver is constraining us in a significant way, and it’s not enabling us to do Dynamic Space Operations the way we’d like.”

USSPACECOM defines Dynamic Space Operations as those operations that require a platform to frequently and quickly act as part of mission operations including readiness campaigns and in defense. The potential for future regret associated with current use of on-orbit consumables for these operations complicates USSPACECOM planning and execution, and therefore degrades its ability to achieve mission objectives.
The concept of Dynamic Space Operations challenges industry to design space systems with a focus on the space domain with increased emphasis on constant-energy orbits to conduct their missions. Previously, satellites were designed with a terrestrial focus to deliver space effects to joint and combined forces. However, with the emergence of on-orbit irresponsible behavior and threats, USSPACECOM also requires capabilities that are focused on and within the domain. 
To further explain the concept, Shaw compared a U.S. military geostationary satellite to an RV that is sold with a full tank of gas but cannot be refilled once the fuel is consumed.
“How does that constrain your camping plans,” Shaw posed with his analogy. “That’s going to really affect how you budget fuel for your trip and where you’re going. Folks – our Geosynchronous Space Situational Awareness Platforms are like an RV.”
With this concept, Shaw challenged industry to develop solutions that will enable USSPACECOM to operate systems without the current constraints.  
“Today’s space domain should be viewed no differently from any other operational domain,” concluded Shaw. “The ability of a military force to augment, replenish, and reconstitute its capabilities will affect its ability to achieve superiority in any domain.”