Shyu launches DSB task force for classified commercial space capabilities

By Michael Marrow / November 28, 2022 at 11:27 AM

Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering Heidi Shyu is launching a Defense Science Board task force to advise DOD leaders on commercial space systems, according to a memo released by Shyu's office.

The committee will offer recommendations for best practices for commercial space systems in the context of classified capabilities, the Nov. 9 memo says, and will work for no longer than one year before presenting their findings to DSB.

Need for the committee is prompted by DOD’s increasing reliance on commercial space systems and competition between users at the strategic, operational and tactical levels, according to the memo. Emerging threats to space systems also requires a new approach to ensure access to space, which the memo warns could be disrupted by “competing as users of the same systems or by controlling access through economic means.”

The new subcommittee, called the Defense Science Board Task Force on Commercial Space System Access and Integrity, will outline “a comprehensive plan for using commercial space systems in the context of classified U.S. space capabilities” using the following criteria:

  • “Identify the commercial space systems most useful for current and future DOD needs;
  • “Identify potential enhancements to commercial space systems that will improve resilience or protection against current and future threats;
  • “Recommend approaches for managing the priorities and governing the use of commercial space system use for DOD strategic and tactical needs. Governing options should include government-owned, contractor-operated models, as well as direct purchase or lease of products and services;
  • “Provide recommendations on models for acquiring commercial space services and products that best balance governmental security, accessibility and cost factors;
  • “Investigate the potential risks and vulnerabilities of an adversary’s exploitation or attack on U.S. use of commercial space systems. Potential vulnerabilities include privacy corruption, integrity corruption, espionage, and reduction of system availability.
  • “Investigate the impact and possible mitigations for potential adversary use of commercial space systems against U.S. defense systems.”

The task force’s findings will be shared at a DSB public meeting once its work has concluded, the memo says, which DSB will then brief to Shyu.