A More Crowded Space Future Awaits

The domain of space has fundamentally changed since the end of the Cold War, and in the 21st century, the United States will be one of many players on orbit, said Lt. Gen. Ellen Pawlikowski, commander of the Space and Missile Systems Center. That new landscape will present new risks and challenges, she said at AFA’s Global Warfare Symposium in Los Angeles last week. Today, 11 countries operate 22 launch sites, and 60 countries and consortia operate satellites on orbit, said Pawlikowski. Those numbers will only expand in the years ahead as space programs around the world grow, she said. The Defense Department tracks 22,000 objects on orbit today, including satellites and space debris, and making sure these objects don’t affect military and commercial space capabilities will be critical in the future, she added.