Yesterday the UK Government officially established Space Command, its Joint Command of the British Army, Royal Navy, Royal Air Force and the Civil Service with a mission to understand and monitor the domain of Space.
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Located at RAF High Wycombe, the organisation will initially build on existing RAF Space structures but an alternative longer-term location might well be on the cards. The unit will be responsible for space operations, space workforce generation and space capability. That includes a remit for UK Space Operations Centre, SKYNET Satellite communications (a system currently owned and operated for the Ministry of Defence by Airbus Defence and Space Ltd) and the monitoring of space for missiles and other space objects at RAF Fylingdales.
Unlike US Space Force, which follows the naval model, the UK’s Space Command seems more closely aligned with the Air Force. Indeed earlier in the year, the commander of this new space unit was announced as Air Commodore Paul Godfrey OBE, who was promoted to Air Vice-Marshal. At a recent event Godfrey discussed the vision for the future of UK military in space, highlighting the importance of the cultural aspects. ‘A large Joint Command is definitely new’ he said stressing that collaboration would be a key priority and way of working. He also described space as both an enabling domain which includes GPS and satellite communications affecting civilian life, as well as being an operational domain where other nations’ space activity would be observed, though he added that ‘it’s about being space advocates not space zealots’.
‘The establishment of a UK Space Command for Defence is a crucial step in the development of a coherent strategy to understand and operate in space, to protect UK interests’ notes the UK government guidance published yesterday. It remains to be seen how this unit will interface with the National Space Council established to provide strategic leadership on space across government and how it will support the UK’s investments and industrial strategy, not to mention the information task of the century which is that of integrating space and cyberspace. Collaboration is certainly the key word here.