The key mission for the US space program is to fight war, but because much of US space infrastructure was developed in an era “when space was considered a benign environment, little thought was given to system protection or defense,” said Brig. Gen. Stephen Whiting Friday in Washington, D.C. Speaking at an AFA Mitchell Institute event, Whiting said as a result the US is unprepared to protect and defend its space assets. “Today the US space enterprise is not resilient enough to successfully prosecute or even survive a high-end conflict that extends into space,” Whiting said. Calling US space programs “absolutely foundational and indelible to the American way of war,” Whiting discussed a plan that would “provide the United States with space capabilities that can help deter a war from extending into space and to ensure that we prevail” if one ever does. Central to that vision would be the move from a technology replacement model focused on “functional availability”—or the lifecycle and maintenance of a satellite—to one of “resilience capacity,” where decisions are made based upon the ability of systems to defend themselves from potential attack.
The White House announced its United States Space Priorities Framework in a document released concurrently with Vice President Kamala Harris' first National Space Council meeting. Listed among five U.S. priorities is to “defend its national security interests from the growing scope and scale of space and counterspace threats.”