A year on for Defence Space Command

3 March 2023

The increased significance of the space domain was clear at the Australian International Airshow 2023 (AIA23), with the ADF’s space capabilities on display for the first time.

Defence Space Command was created to deliver the transformational change needed for an increasingly congested, contested and competitive space domain.

Since its inception in January 2022, Defence Space Command has achieved a number of significant milestones including the formation of the ADF’s first Joint Space Unit, No.1 Space Surveillance Unit, which is based at RAAF Edinburgh, South Australia.

“Our mission is to prepare space power to secure Australia’s interests in peace and war,” Defence Space Commander Air Vice-Marshal Cath Roberts said. 

Air Vice-Marshal Roberts' focus is to both deliver space power for the Joint Force today and position Defence to maximise space power into the future.

“The space surveillance telescope in Exmouth was declared operational in September 2022," she said. "We also achieved Initial Operational Capability for the space segment and ground infrastructure for a protected military SATCOM capability."

“These initiatives are part of the operating concept and space architecture that Defence Space Command has been developing in our first year with our allies and international partners."

Defence Space Command has made progress through the Combined Space Operations initiative with like-minded nations to set responsible behaviours in space.

For instance, Australia now has a policy setting, along with CSpO nations, to not conduct destructive direct ascent anti-satellite testing.

These tests generate large amounts of debris that remain in space for years, threatening satellites and other space objects. They risk the long-term sustainability of human activity in space.

“Some countries have developed or are developing new capabilities to target satellites to destroy space systems or degrade their capabilities, threatening our networks," Air Vice-Marshal Roberts said.

“We respond to threats in space using the full spectrum of response options, from designing resilient mission systems that mitigate the risks of attack right through to contributing to combined space operations with our allies and partners.

“A space electronic warfare capability seeks to detect and deter attempts to interfere with our use of the space domain without creating debris or damage the space environment. We are exploring options for non-kinetic capabilities for consideration by government."

Air Vice-Marshal Roberts is focused on rapid capability development, operations and developing the space workforce in Defence Space Command's second year.

“Defence Space Command will work with allies, partners and commercial industry to leverage Australia’s space advantages to achieve a resilient space architecture to assure our land, maritime, air and cyber capabilities achieve their joint missions," AVM Roberts said.

“My top priority is to continue to grow, educate and retain our space workforce. This is the most critical factor for achieving Space Command’s mission.”



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