Status Report

Report: The Future of Space 2060 and Implications for U.S. Strategy: Report on the Space Futures Workshop

By SpaceRef Editor
September 6, 2019
Filed under , ,

The Future of Space 2060 and Implications for U.S. Strategy: Report on the Space Futures Workshop,

Air Force Space Command

5 September 2019

Full report

Executive Summary

“Control of space means control of the world.”
(Lyndon B Johnson, Vice President, Senate Armed Services Committee Hearing, January 1959)

This report provides a long-term perspective on possible space futures to inform strategic decision- making. Economic, political, technological, and military space trends indicate that we have passed the tipping point for space as a vastly increased domain of human endeavor and a key element of national power. Other countries recognize the advantages of U.S. space leadership, as well as the value space capabilities provide, and are moving aggressively to challenge the U.S. To ensure continued U.S. space leadership, a coordinated, short-, mid-, and long-term national strategy is required.

Air Force Space Command (AFSPC) hosted a Space Futures Workshop (SFW) to explore the role of space to the year 2060. Participants from the DoD, NASA, NATO, industry, and academia used an alternative futures analysis technique to develop a range of future scenarios and to explore how they relate to national power. Eight future space scenarios were developed and explored along civil, commercial, and military conditions by defining positive and negative bounds. These bounds were developed based upon an analysis of technical, value, and national interest trends and assumptions as to the overall economic, political, and military state of the world in 2060.

Key conclusions reached were:

–  The U.S. must recognize that in 2060, space will be a major engine of national political, economic, and military power for whichever nations best organize and operate to exploit that potential.

–  The U.S. faces growing competition from allies, rivals, and adversaries for leadership in the exploration and exploitation of space.

–  China is executing a long-term civil, commercial, and military strategy to explore and economically develop the cislunar domain with the explicit aim of displacing the U.S. as the leading space power. Other nations are developing similar national strategies.

–  A failure to remain a leading space power will place U.S. national power at risk. To avert this, the U.S. coalition must promote and optimize the combined civil, military, and commercial exploitation of space to best serves the nation’s interests.

–  The U.S. military must define and execute its role in promoting, exploiting, and defending the expanded military, civil, and commercial U.S. activities and human presence in space.

The workshop produced the following recommendations:

–  The US must develop a long-term, national space strategy to ensure continued leadership. This strategy should be developed across government, industry, and academia to ensure synergy of efforts to optimize and promote overall U.S. national space power and grand strategy.

–  AFSPC should commit the resources to complete the strategy as outlined in this report as a part of its organize, train, and equip mission. U.S. Space Command should similarly commit resources to this effort as part of their strategic and operational execution missions.

–  The strategy must address how the national security establishment will defend the full range of expanded national interests in space (i.e., civil and commercial space capabilities and citizens in space) – not just the services that directly support national security.

–  Essential capabilities and technologies to enable positive future outcomes must be developed by the whole of government. An investment, policy, and regulatory strategy must be pursued to ensure those capabilities.

–  The nation must commit to investment in science and technology to drive the rapidly changing global space environment as a key element of the strategy.

This report presents results from the first step in a three-step effort to support the development of this strategy. The three steps are:

1) Describe a range of possible future scenarios and explore the characteristics of those scenarios across civil, economic, and military realms and their implications for national power.

2) Determine a national strategy vision across these futures that promote those most advantageous to the U.S., and avoid those most disadvantageous, particularly with respect to national defense.

3) Determine the minimum essential capabilities and actions required to implement that strategy, with emphasis on the military role.

Next steps in this process will develop additional recommendations required to promote space futures advantageous to the U.S. Additionally, a minimum set of actions required by the U.S. space community to affect national strategy will be determined, with emphasis on the military role in that strategy. Subsequent follow-on work will include specific recommendations on science and technology focus areas and investments to ensure the U.S. is well placed to deter threats and maintain space leadership.

SpaceRef staff editor.