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DoD issues new strategy for commercial space capabilities

A Falcon 9 rocket carrying a Starlink payload launches from Kennedy Space Center in Florida on 17 December 2022. (US Space Force)

The US Department of Defense (DoD), for the first time, has issued guidance on how the Pentagon will continue to and possibly accelerate integration of commercial, space-based technologies into the department's national security space architecture.

The 2024 Commercial Space Integration Strategy, released on 2 March, establishes the “foundational principles, priorities, and approaches” that the DoD will leverage as a way to adopt and integrate advanced space systems and platforms into the Pentagon's space-based toolkit, said US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin.

“Integrating commercial solutions, as opposed to mere[ly] augmenting existing government systems, will require a shift in approach within the department,” Austin wrote in the 2 March document.

DoD senior leaders and those “at all levels need to be aware of and work to eliminate the structural, procedural, and cultural barriers to overcoming legacy practices and preconceived notions of how the commercial sector can support national security” across all warfighting domains, but especially in the space domain, Austin wrote.

Proactive integration of commercial-sector space technologies into service and departmental programmes, platforms, and systems is the only way the DoD “can be positioned to leverage [those technologies] in crisis or conflict”, according to Austin.

Increased collaboration with the commercial sector for development of advanced technologies was highlighted as a key tenet in the 2022 National Security Strategy, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Space Policy John Plumb said. The development and release of the new commercial space integration strategy “follows through on that directive”, he said during a 2 March briefing at the Pentagon.

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