Community Policing on Orbit

Rather than outline specific capabilities for meeting new threats in space, Lt. Gen. Ellen Pawlikowski, the Air Force’s military deputy for acquisition, on Wednesday likened the US government’s approach to how a community might address public safety. “Everyone who operates in space is going to have to think about this” and has a role to play, not just the US military, she said during her Capitol Hill address that AFA’s Mitchell Institute sponsored. This is why cooperation with commercial entities to improve space situational awareness is so important, she said. Pawlikowski highlighted the work of the Commercial Space Operations Center, a private venture owned by AGI of Exton, Pa., that fuses commercial satellite tracking data. This mindset is what is shaping the Air Force’s investment in systems such as Geosynchronous Space Situational Awareness Program satellites, which Pawlikowski likened to patrol cars on orbit, and in helping the Joint Space Operations Center at Vandenberg AFB, Calif., be able to discern better what’s going on in space. Planned upgrades to the JSPoC mission system software are an attempt to evolve the center beyond just “cataloging data,” she said, and move into command and control of satellites on orbit, both military and commercial, she said. This is why JSPoC leadership has set up a new “commercial cell” in order to “better engage” with commercial operators in space, she said.