December 16, 2021
Gina Ortiz Jones
Under Secretary, U.S. Air Force
Christopher D. Roberti
Senior Vice President for Cyber, Space, and National Security Policy, U.S. Chamber of Commerce
In the midst of the modern space revolution, America must identify opportunities for the private and public sectors to work together and achieve our potential for future space innovations.
From establishing international collaboration to developing a strong pipeline for our space workforce, there are many actions we can take to secure a strong and valuable future in space. During the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s fourth annual Space Summit, Gina Ortiz Jones, under secretary of the U.S. Air Force, shared the top U.S. space priorities going forward.
The U.S. Is Continuing Its Progress in Space
The U.S. has made significant progress in space during the past few years, and it’s important the nation continues to secure interest in this sector.
“In [just] two years … the civil space sector and NASA have flown a helicopter on Mars, launched astronauts from U.S. soil, including the Space Force’s own Colonel Mike Hopkins,” Ortiz Jones said. “The commercial sector is seeing rapid growth with the number of active satellites doubling to about 5,000 and space startups influencing every industry imaginable.”
As space tourism is continuing to thrive, the space sector is producing more jobs for about 420,000 Americans with a forecast of 1.5 million jobs nationally and millions of jobs globally by 2050.
“To make this happen, we need to secure our interest in space — and we can't just assume that everything enabled by space assets will be there in the years to come,” she said. “Like the commercial sector, the competition in the security sector is getting stiffer.”
According to the United States Space Priorities Framework, the country needs to prioritize its access to and use of space as a vital national interest, said Ortiz Jones.
“This is exactly why we created a space force two years ago, and why it is critical we continue the progress our guardians are making today,” she added.
Working to Keep Up with Competitors
As our adversaries are developing capabilities to harm American ally assets in orbit, the U.S. Space Force must find ways to bolster resiliency.
“Our competitors have done their homework, and they know just how reliant we are on space as a nation,” said Ortiz Jones. “They know space enables the economic and the military power of our nation … and they see counter space capabilities as a way to threaten our interests.”
She noted that our first step is to get our space order of battle right, meaning we should understand what we need to do to protect both our satellites and the other critical enabling that is done by space.
“So much we take for granted that is enabled by space is protected every day by the men and women serving as guardians today,” Ortiz Jones said. “So we've got to be proactive in our approach to our future force and the space forces leading that charge.”
To combat any threats against us, the Space Warfighting Analysis Center (SWAC) is keeping up with any looming threats to help the joint force where we need to establish and fund service requirements — starting with our aging missile warning systems.
“To sustain our advantages, we've got to move faster than our competitors,” said Ortiz Jones.
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