by Brien Flewelling —
Exploitation of the space domain is driving profound changes in U.S. national security and economic strategy. As military and economic activity expands beyond GEO, so too will the associated challenges of space debris, flight safety, and security. The U.S. Space Force, in their recently published capstone document Spacepower, put it this way: “Today, the entirety of economic and military space activities is confined to the geocentric regime; however, commercial investments and new technologies have the potential to expand the reach of vital National space interests to the cislunar regime and beyond in the near future.”
Protecting U.S. and allied activities in cislunar space presents significant technological challenges that must be surmounted to ensure U.S. preeminence in the cislunar regime. The figure below provides an overview of the scale (1,000 times the volume of GEO) and scope (potentially $10 trillion economy) of the cislunar regime, which contains the Earth, moon, and Lagrange points where spacecraft may perform many of the future functions within a cislunar economy.
Our vision for American leadership in cislunar space combines commercial and government capabilities focused on achieving U.S. cislunar information dominance. Extending commercial solutions to ensure precise and persistent cislunar space domain awareness (SDA) holds great promise for mitigating challenges inherent to this domain. This way forward requires a close partnership among industry and government organizations.
Cislunar information dominance can be defined as the ability to seize and control the information domain “high ground” when, where, and however required for decisive competitive advantage across the range activities within cislunar space. Commercial solutions exist or are in development across a spectrum of activities once exclusively reserved for governments, from communications to navigation to lunar landing.
Cislunar SDA technologies are a foundational component of the infrastructure needed to support a cislunar economy, yet they have not received the priority or resources commensurate with their importance. The U.S. government must commit to ensuring that commercial solutions for cislunar SDA achieve the required performance to support future operations and thereby assuring the United States maintains its freedom of action and technological advantage in this vast region. Persistent, sensitive, timely, and accurate cislunar SDA is a critical enabler of cislunar information dominance and underpins future U.S. space security and economic competitiveness.