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The Potentiality of Space Enterprise Force Reconstitution
Posted Friday, June 07, 2019


AFIT faculty member and alum Maj Robert Bettinger (PhD, Astronautical Engineering, 2014 and M.S. Astronautical Engineering, 2011) co-authored an article in the Air & Space Power Journal (Volume 33 Issue 2, Summer 2019) titled "The Potentiality of Space Enterprise Force Reconstitution - Nationalizing Civilian Satellites during Kinetic Conflicts."  An excerpt of the article is below. The full article can be accessed here.

The acquisition of new space systems requires the execution of an iterative system design, test, and subsystem integration process. The result of this process—an operational satellite—must satisfy user needs while meeting requirements imposed by the prospective launch vehicle provider. With individual satellites’ largely unique systems, or as part of a limited variant block within an overall program, the reinitiating of the space acquisitions process to reconstitute disabled or destroyed assets will likely create a multiple-year delay in achieving a fraction of preconflict space capabilities. The difficulties in rapid reconstitution require an alternative, yet temporary, approach to enable continued operation of at least key facets of the US Space Enterprise. The pursuance of civilian agreements for the nationalization of satellites in the event of a space war permits such an immediate adjunct to reconstitution and is recommended for preventing a protracted loss of the “ultimate high ground” of space. Given the difficulties of crafting an entirely new nationalization process framework, this effort could find a foundation in the existing structures of the CRAF and VISA, two programs instituted for the air and sea domains, respectively.

Satellite nationalization represents a stop-gap capability that satisfies immediate space system requirements in the short-term until the formal space acquisitions process can replace space systems in the long-term. From a planning perspective, a cost-benefit evaluation of the level of public disclosure for instituting a policy of civilian satellite nationalization is required. While full disclosure of the policy could garner a position of strategic deterrence to space warfare by reducing the effect of limited counterspace arsenals and capabilities, the opposite may be true with full disclosure precipitating an expansion of counterspace system procurement by potential adversaries. Independent of its potential geopolitical and strategic ramifications, satellite nationalization will require robust preconflict planning to enable the exploitation of civilian satellites for achieving US Space Enterprise requirements, as well as the integration of civilian space capabilities into existing US governmental space system architectures.