First year of Defence Space Command

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.

CAPTION: Defence Space Command staff pose for a photo at the command’s first Australian International Air Show. Story by Flying Officer Shan Arachchi Galappatthy. Photo by Leading Aircraftwoman Kate Czerny.

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 – which is based at RAAF Edinburgh, South Australia.

Defence Space Commander Air Vice-Marshal Cath Roberts said the command’s mission was to prepare space power to secure Australia’s interests in peace and war.

The importance of the space domain is undoubtedly growing. Defence Space Commander’s focus is to both deliver space power for the Joint Force today and best position Defence to maximise space power into the future.

“The Space Surveillance Telescope in Exmouth was declared operational in September 2022 – and, we also achieved initial operational capability for the space segment and ground infrastructure for a protected military SATCOM capability,” Air Vice-Marshal Roberts said.

“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.

“We have made progress through the Combined Space Operations initiative with like-minded nations, to set responsible behaviours in space.

“Australia now has a policy setting, along with CSpO nations, that we will not conduct destructive direct ascent anti-satellite testing.

“When carried out, these tests generate large amounts of debris that remain in space for years, threatening satellites and other space objects, and risking 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.

“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 damaging the space environment.

“We are exploring options for non-kinetic capabilities for consideration by government.”

When asked what Air Vice-Marshal Roberts expects of Defence Space Command’s second year, she said she was focused on rapid capability development, operations and developing the space workforce.

“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”, she 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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