WASHINGTON: Citing intensifying competition that presents a “serious threat,” a new framework document designed to guide Biden administration space policy puts building a more resilient military posture at the top of its national security priorities, along with improving the ability to “detect and attribute hostile acts” on orbit.
The document, “United States Space Priorities Framework” and signed by President Joe Biden, will be released today by Vice President Kamala Harris when she chairs her first National Space Council meeting. The document, obtained by Breaking Defense, sets out a wide range of goals beyond national security — from using space to bolster climate action, to supporting domestic industry, to working to strengthen global governance — aimed at maintaining a “robust and responsible space enterprise” and “preserving” space for future generations.
“The Framework will guide the Council’s efforts to develop and implement national space policy and strategy going forward,” a White House official said in an email. “It maintains focus on advancing and synchronizing our civil, commercial, and national security space activities, and adds emphasis in support of the Administration’s agenda, including promoting peaceful exploration of space and reducing the risk of miscalculation or conflict in space; addressing the climate crisis; and enhancing STEM education.”
In the security arena, the document highlights the increase in space-related threats without mentioning specific incidents, such as China’s recent test involving a hypersonic glide vehicle or Russia’s debris-strewing demo of an anti-satellite weapon that both have caused alarm at the Pentagon.
“The United States will defend its national security interests from the growing scope and scale of space and counterspace threats. Intensifying strategic competition presents a serious threat to U.S. national security interests, including in space,” the document [PDF] says. “The military doctrines of competitor nations identify space as critical to modern warfare and view the use of counterspace capabilities as a means both to reduce U.S. military effectiveness and to win future wars.”
At the same time, the framework stresses that “confrontation or conflict” isn’t “inevitable.”
Accelerating efforts to move to a more resilient architecture and strengthening space domain awareness are cited as two methods that can “deter aggression against U.S., allied, and partner interests in a manner that contributes to strategic stability.” The document also pledges that the US will “take steps to protect its military forces from space-enabled threats.”
The framework further commits the administration to leveraging “new commercial space capabilities and services to meet national security requirements” and deepening national security space “integration” with allies and partners to “bolster mission assurance.”
Finally, under the national security section, the document states that the administration intends to “engage diplomatically with strategic competitors in order to enhance stability in outer space,” as well as abide by international law and “demonstrate leadership in both the responsible use of space and stewardship of the space environment.”
The document also takes aim at bolstering “space-related critical infrastructure” and strengthening the security of industrial base. “In particular, the United States will work with the commercial space industry and other non-governmental space developers and operators to improve the cybersecurity of space systems, ensure efficient spectrum access, and strengthen the resilience of supply chains across the nation’s space industrial base,” the document states.
As for space sustainability and planetary protection, another priority area, the White House targets increased “efforts to mitigate, track, and remediate space debris” among other actions, such as leading in the development of national and international “best practices.”
“We are on the cusp of historic changes in access to and use of space — changes that have the potential to bring the benefits of space to more people and communities than ever before. The United States will harness the use of space to tackle the most pressing challenges at home and abroad, while leading the international community in preserving the benefits of space for current and future generations,” the document concludes.