2010 Space Symposium - Keynote

By Frank A. Rose | Omaha, Neb. | Nov. 2, 2010

MR. GANDY: Our next speaker on today's agenda is Mr. Frank Rose, the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Defense Policy and Verification Operations with the U.S. State Department.

Mr. Rose advises senior State Department officials on key arms control and defense policy issues like missile defense, military space policy, defense acquisitions and conventional arms control. He serves as the State Department liaison to the U.S. intelligence community on issues related to the verification of arms control treaties and agreements. Prior to joining the State Department Mr. Rose served in the U.S. House of Representatives. He was a professional staff member on both the armed services committee and the permanent select committee on intelligence. He also served in the Office of Secretary of Defense as a senior policy advisor to the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Strategy and Threat Reduction and the Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Policy. Please welcome Mr. Rose.

MR. ROSE: Jerry, thank you very much for that kind introduction. Actually, [I have] a little update. My title changed about two weeks ago, and I am now the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Space and Defense Policy. Given the importance of space, we thought it would be very appropriate to change my title.

Before I begin, let me just take a minute to congratulate General Chilton on his retirement. He has [had] quite an impressive career. I've worked with General Chilton over the past several years in both my capacity on the House Armed Services Committee staff and in the State Department. And I can attest from my current position that the State Department greatly appreciates the close cooperation we have had with STRATCOM on a long range of issues during his tenure. I wish him well in his retirement and the best for the future.

It's a pleasure to attend this symposium. I found this morning's sessions to be quite interesting. What is clear from our discussions so far is that there is a growing recognition that the space environment is becoming increasingly congested.

And let me break right here because my staff has said that, Frank, your speeches tend to be very, very bland, so we're going to have a couple of jokes we're going to insert. So I'm going to indulge you and see if these are any good. You've got to let me know. So here comes the first joke.

In fact, there's so much congestion in outer space that not even Sudafed can help solve this problem. Any good? Nah, boo. In my remarks today, I will discuss the new U.S. national space policy and the opportunities it presents for international space cooperation. I will highlight how the United States is seeking to cooperate in areas of debris mitigation, situational awareness, collision avoidance and responsible and peaceful behavior in space.

Much of my time at the State Department is focused on national security aspects of international space cooperation, particularly working with traditional space faring nations and partners but also in exploring potential opportunities for cooperation with emerging space powers.

My colleagues at State and I also work and continue to work closely with the Department's of Defense, Commerce, and Transportation as well as NASA and the intelligence community to implement this new policy and to preserve the long-term sustainability of our space activities.

As most of you know, the U.S. national space policy was released in June of this year. This policy is a statement of the administration's highest priorities for space and reflects our principles and goals to be used in shaping the conduct of space programs and activities.

In the four years since the issuance of the previous U.S. National Space Policy, a number of developments have changed the opportunity, challenges, and threats facing the international space community. This new policy both accounts for those changes and reflects the fact that space has become an even more important component of our collective economic and international security.

A key component of this policy is its increased emphasis on expanding international cooperation and collaboration. Such opportunities include cooperation to mitigate orbital debris, shared space situational awareness information, improved information sharing for collision avoidance and the development of transparency and confidence building measures.

Collaboration in each of these areas has the potential of enhancing stability in space. As a result since the policy was released, my interagency colleagues and I have spent a great deal of time on the road meeting with our allies, friends, and space partners to explain the president's new policy and to discuss areas for cooperation and collaboration. I will discuss some of these areas now and then close with some of our views of how all countries can contribute to preserving the space environment for future generations.

As we discussed earlier, congestion in space is becoming an increasingly difficult challenge and addressing it will require international action. There are now around 21,000 pieces of space debris in various earth orbits. In other words, about 6,000 metric tons of debris is orbiting the earth. Some of this debris was created accidentally through collisions or routine space launches, some was intentional such as the Chinese ASAT test in 2007.

Not only is there a direct economic impact to this debris, it also adds to the overall magnitude of hazards in critical orbits such as those used by the space shuttle and the international space station.

For example, the space shuttle is impacted by debris repeatedly on every mission. In fact, debris poses the single largest threat to the shuttle and to the astronauts aboard during missions. The typical risk of space shuttle being critically impacted by debris is about 1 in 250.

To address the growing problem of orbital debris, the United States plans to expand its engagement within the United Nations and with other governments in nongovernmental organizations. We are continuing to lead the development in adoption of international standards to minimize debris, building upon the foundation of the UN debris mitigation guidelines.

The United States is also engaged with our European allies and partners in other like-minded nations on a multiyear study of long-term sustainability within the scientific and technical committee of the UN Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space or COPUOS. This effort will provide a valuable opportunity for cooperation with established and emerging space actors and with the private sector to establish a set of best practices guidelines that will enhance space flight safety.

In collaboration with other space faring nations, the United States is also pursuing research and development of technologies and techniques to mitigate on orbit debris, reduce hazards and increase our understanding of the current and future debris environment.

These activities provide valuable opportunities and benefits for expanded international cooperation with global space faring community in the private sector and also contribute to preserving the space environment for future generations.

International cooperation is also necessary to ensure that we have robust situational awareness of the space environment. No one nation has the resources or geography necessary to precisely track every space object. The national space policy implicitly recognizes this fact and, thus, directs us to collaborate with other nations, the private sector and intergovernmental organizations to improve our space situational awareness, specifically to improve our shared ability to rapidly detect, warn of, characterize and attribute natural and manmade disturbances to space systems.

An example of our efforts to cooperate in the area of space situational awareness is the collaboration with Europe as they develop their own space situational awareness or SSA system. The State Department, in close collaboration with the Department of Defense, is currently engaged in technical exchanges with experts from the European Space Agency (ESA), European Union, and individual ESA and EU members to ensure interoperability between our two SSA systems.

Looking ahead, the State Department and DoD see opportunities for cooperation on SSA with our allies and partners in the Asia Pacific and other regions.

International cooperation is also essential to enable satellite owners and operators to have the information necessary to prevent future collisions. As a result, we are seeking to improve our ability to share information with other space faring nations as well as with our industry partners. Such cooperation enables us to improve space object databases as well as pursue common international data standards and data integrity measures.

The national space policy calls for collaboration on the dissemination of orbital tracking information including predictions of potentially hazardous conjunctions between orbiting objects.

In addition to improving our own capabilities to conduct, expand in space, object detection, characterization and tracking and maintaining the space object catalog, the United States also provides notifications to other governments and commercial satellite operators of potential conjunctions.

The State Department is very supportive of U.S. Strategic Command's efforts to work with space faring entities to establish two-way information exchanges and facilitate the rapid notification of space hazards.

To ensure timely notifications, the Department of State is currently reaching out to all space faring nations to ensure the Joint Space Operations Center has current contact information for government and private sector satellite operation centers.

We hope that our space surveillance capabilities improve. We will be able to notify satellite operators earlier with greater accuracy in order to prevent collisions in space.

The U.S. government is currently working closely with the commercial space industry to determine the kinds of satellite data and other information that can be shared within appropriate national security and proprietary bounds. Working together at the operator level to share collision warning information will have the added benefit of improving space flight safety and communication among governmental and commercial operators, users and decision makers.

The national space policy clearly states also that the United States will continue to work with other space actors to pursue pragmatic bilateral and multilateral transparency and confidence building measures, or TCBMs, to mitigate the risks on mishaps, misperceptions and mistrust.

It also affirms that we are open to considering space-related arms control concepts and proposals provided they meet the rigorous criteria of equitability, effective verifiability and enhance the security of the United States and our allies.

The United States supports TCBMs to enhance U.S. security as well as the security of our allies, friends and state partners. Examples of bilateral-related TCBMs include dialogues in space policies and strategies, expert's visits to military satellite flight control centers, and discussions on mechanisms for information exchanges on natural and debris hazards.

For example, over the past few years, we have recognized the importance of space security dialogues. To date, the Department of State has conducted these dialogues with a number of key allies and partners, including Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United Kingdom, and we expect to engage other nations in the coming weeks and months.

Additionally, following the February 2009 collision between the commercial Iridium spacecraft and an inactive Russian military satellite [Cosmos], the United States and Russia were in direct communication to discuss the incident. This experience is contributing to the ongoing dialogue with Russia on developing additional concrete and pragmatic TCBMs that will enhance space flight safety.

This past August, I led an interagency delegation to Moscow for bilateral space security dialogue with Russian experts. There we reviewed national space policy developments and opportunities for reciprocal site visits and collaboration in a multilateral forum.

In addition to these exchanges, the United States looked forward to implementing a wide range of reciprocal military-to-military exchanges including many of the specific measures noted by Russia in its past submissions to the Secretary General of the United Nations.

The United States invited Russian military space officials to participate in events such as this symposium and to visit STRATCOM's Joint Space Operations Center at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

Additionally, the United States stands ready to discuss space security with China as part of the U.S./China strategic and Economic Dialogue, the U.S./China Security Dialogue, and through military-to-military exchanges. Such exchanges fulfill the call of President Obama and President Hu in the joint statement of November 17, 2009 to take steps to enhance security in outer space.

And let me just go off script here a minute and talk a little bit about China because, as you know, the United States has a number of concerns about China's activities in space. But one of the key points that I would like to get across is that the United States very much is interested in working with China because we believe, though we have some differences, there are some areas where we can work together to maintain the stability of space environment for all nations.

General Chilton and I were having a discussion a little bit earlier today about an incident about six months ago. As I noted in my prepared remarks, we work very closely with the JSpOC on notifications to foreign nations.

Well, about six months ago my staff brought me a notification to China. There was a piece of debris from their 2007 ASAT test that was going to have a conjunction with one of their active satellites.

So it goes to the point that I talked about earlier. This is an area where we can work together with China because it's in everybody's interest, the U.S., Russia, and the EU, not to create excess debris in space. So we are very, very serious about working with Russia, China and all space faring nations to develop the long-term sustainability of space.

And that leads me into the point on the adoption of international norms or codes of conduct are also examples of TCBMs. The United States is currently completing extensive review of the European Union's initiative to develop a comprehensive set of multilateral TCBMs also known as a code of conduct for outer space activities.

Over the past three years the United States has been actively consulting with the EU on their proposed code. It is our hope to make a decision in the coming months as to whether the United States can sign on to such a code pending our ongoing review in the results of further consultations with the EU and other like-minded nations.

We also believe it is time to consider how space relates to the challenges facing the North Atlantic Alliance and how to strengthen alliance partnerships to reflect the globalized network world that we live in today.

The upcoming release of the new NATO strategic concept offers an opportunity to develop a stronger consensus across NATO member states about the alliance's role in space. This includes contributions to coalition operations as well as emerging challenges to our shared space security interest in space.

The United States looks forward to continuing its discussions on pragmatic and voluntary TCBMs within multilateral forum. During last month's meeting of the UN General Assembly's first committee, we worked with Russia to try to co-sponsor their resolution establishing a group of government experts, or GGE, to assess options for TCBMs in space.

The United States offered the Russian Federation and the People's Republic of China a constructive draft resolution for co-sponsorship. We were disappointed that we were not able to join in the consensus when neither party was willing to drop the language between TCBMs and their proposal for so-called Prevention of Placement of Weapons in Outerspace Treaty or PPWT for short, a proposal which the United States has significant concerns about. That's a diplomatic speech that we believe that the treaty is fundamentally flawed.

That said, while we have some concerns about revolution, we nonetheless appreciate the effort of the Russian Federation to develop a resolution that advances our sheer goals of developing pragmatic TCBMs. In particular, we are supportive of the resolutions establishment of a group of government experts to examine voluntary and pragmatic TCBMs in space that solve concrete problems. We look forward to working with our colleagues on this effort in such GGE.

Additionally, the United States continues to support the inclusion of a non-negotiating or discussion mandate in any UN conference on disarmament program of work under the agenda item Prevention of an Arms Race in Outer Space known as PAROS.

In closing I'd like to mention that all countries can contribute to preserving the space environment for future generations. As the first principal of our National Space Policy affirms, quote, “it is the shared interest of all nations to act responsibly in space to help prevent mishaps, misperceptions and mistrust.”

The United States calls on governments around the world to work together to adopt approaches for responsible activities in space in order to preserve this right for the benefit of future generations.

As a result, the United States is seeking to cooperate in the areas of debris mitigation, situational awareness, collision avoidance and responsible and peaceful behavior in space. This will require the assistance from all space actors, not only established space faring nations, but also those countries just beginning to explore and use space.

President Obama's national space policy renews America's pledge of cooperation and belief that with reinvigorated U.S. leadership and strengthened international collaboration, all nations and people, space faring and space benefiting, will find their horizons broadened, their knowledge enhanced and their lives greatly improved.

The United States looks forward to our future work with all responsible space actors to create a more secure, stable and safe space environment for the benefit of all nations. Thank for your time and your attention.