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Today, the U.S. is more reliant on space capabilities than ever before.

Satellites are at the heart of every aspect of our civilian, military and intelligence infrastructures – from navigation, communications, command and control, surveillance, to television, weather, support to first responders and even ride-sharing services

Protecting our satellites – and their associated communications networks – is of paramount importance.

Damian DiPippa

Threats

Space itself is a hostile and unforgiving environment. Looming adversaries range from extreme temperature and radiation fluctuations to unpredictable solar flares and an increasing amount of flying debris.

Any one of these elements could threaten to wipe out vital national capabilities in an instant. Satellites and their architectures (including their supporting ground infrastructure) must be resilient to ensure operational systems are available for the warfighter and other commercial space users.

Then there are geopolitical concerns.

For decades the US has been the dominant power in the space domain.

As the barriers to access space are lowered, however, the number of actors is expected to increase, and our ability to carry out our missions will become progressively more difficult.  

Next, there’s congestion.

There are almost 2,000 satellites in orbit – owned and operated by over 50 countries; and there are over 20,000 pieces of orbital debris being tracked (just counting those 10 cm and larger).

The effect of this ever-increasing debris? 

Even the International Space Station has had to maneuver over 25 times to avoid orbital collisions.

China’s successful anti-satellite missile test in 2007 not only proved that China could hold our space assets at risk, it also created a debris field of more than 2,000 objects which continues to threaten manned and unmanned space operations.  

In 2009, the collision of Cosmos 2251 with Iridium 33 also produced more than 2,000 pieces of orbital debris in low earth orbit (LEO).

These events have placed significant challenges on our nation’s space surveillance network and highlighted the importance of improving our ability to gain and maintain space situational awareness (SSA) – also known as SOSI (Space Object Surveillance and Identification).

Space Resilience

Resilience is the ability of an architecture to support the functions necessary for mission success in spite of hostile action or adverse conditions.

An architecture is “more resilient” if it can provide these functions with higher probability, shorter periods of reduced capability, and across a wider range of scenarios, conditions, and threats.  Resilience may leverage cross-domain or alternative government, commercial, or international capabilities. 

According to the Department of Defense, resilience covers four main areas: avoidance, robustness, reconstitution, and recovery.

  • Avoidance: Countermeasures against potential adversaries
  • Robustness: Architecture properties and design features to enhance survivability and resist functional degradation
  • Reconstitution: Plans and operations to replenish lost or diminished functions to an acceptable level for a particular mission, operation, or contingency
  • Recovery: Program execution and space support operations to re-establish full operational capability and capacity for the full range of missions, operations, or contingencies

ManTech’s Work

ManTech’s work within the space resiliency domain encompasses three main areas:

  1. Cyber Operations and Defense: Our full-spectrum cyber operations capabilities include using our Advanced Cyber Range Environment (ACRE) to support protecting the space architecture and assets against cyber threats – this includes not only the space systems themselves, but also the ground infrastructures, the users, and the links between them. Further, we are expanding into the counter-space domain through research and development of cyber kill-chain tools, tactics, and strategies.

 

  1. Data Analytics and Analysis for space situational awareness and space object surveillance and identification (SOSI) and analyses of the entire space architectures for vulnerabilities. We collect and use data to identify and thwart critical events before they occur. We also analyze data to determine the true cause of critical events – for example, whether they are environmental, accidental, or intentional.

 

  1. Developing More Resilient Space Architectures and Recovery Capabilities. This work includes developing cross-domain solutions (such as multi-level security environments having a common operating picture); strategies, CONOPS, and program protection for self-protections and stand-off effects, high fidelity modeling, simulations and analysis.

 

 

For more information about ManTech’s space resilience program and capabilities, contact Damian DiPippa at [email protected]

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