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SpOC hosts 2021 USSF Space Futures Workshop

Dr. Victoria Coleman, chief scientist, Department of the Air Force, speaks to the audience at the 2021 USSF Space Futures Work in Colorado Springs, Colo., June 2, 2021. Coleman serves as the chief scientific adviser to the Secretary of the Air Force, Air Force Chief of Staff, and Chief of Space Operations. She provides assessments on a wide range of scientific and technical issues affecting the department’s mission.

Dr. Victoria Coleman, chief scientist, Department of the Air Force, speaks to the audience at the 2021 USSF Space Futures Work in Colorado Springs, Colo., June 2, 2021. Coleman serves as the chief scientific adviser to the Secretary of the Air Force, Air Force Chief of Staff, and Chief of Space Operations. She provides assessments on a wide range of scientific and technical issues affecting the department’s mission.

Dr. Joel Mozer, chief scientist, Space Operations Command, provides opening remarks at the 2021 USSF Space Futures Workshop in Colorado Springs, Colo., June 2, 2021. The 3-day workshop gave experts from around the country the opportunity to come together in a collaborative effort for space future planning.

Dr. Joel Mozer, chief scientist, Space Operations Command, provides opening remarks at the 2021 USSF Space Futures Workshop in Colorado Springs, Colo., June 2, 2021. The 3-day workshop gave experts from around the country the opportunity to come together in a collaborative effort for space future planning.

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- Space Operations Command hosted the 2021 United States Space Force Space Futures Workshop at Catalyst Campus for Technology and Innovation in downtown Colorado Springs, June 2-4, giving experts the opportunity to come together in a collaborative effort for space future planning.

Dr. Joel Mozer, SpOC Chief Scientist and organizer of the SFW series, said he was thankful this year’s workshop could be an in-person event so experts in their fields from across the country could come together and bring their best ideas forward.

Attendees included Guardians, Airmen, academics, and representatives from a variety of organizations to include NASA, U.S. Space Command, Air Force Research Laboratory, Defense Innovation Unit, and of course, SpOC.

Mozer organized the first SFW, because he recognized the need for an in-depth look at realistic future scenarios in the space domain to inform USSF future planning and long-term science and technology challenges that needed to be addressed to ensure U.S. space missions are successful in the future.

“Looking toward the future is an inherent part of military planning for future operations and acquisitions,” said Mozer. “The United States Air Force and Space Force often look at future scenarios with efforts such as exercises and workshops. Other examples of activities that contribute to and affect military future planning and strategizing in the space domain include the Schriever Wargame series, Space Flag and Red Flag exercises.”

While previous SFWs looked forty years into the future to the year 2060, this year’s looked a little closer to present, to the year 2040—a time frame dubbed “the Space Force after next.”

“We cannot underestimate the potential number, complexity, and competition of space-faring entities in 2040,” said Mozer. “Space in 2040 will be more complex and diverse as to the number of actors and their capabilities and interests. Future commercial space endeavors will present challenges to U.S. leadership, and to legal constructs such as ownership and sovereignty, that if not resolved could lead to commercial space entities as independent or semi-independent space powers.”

“Spacepower may be widely distributed, making it impossible for any one entity to have the predominant spacepower in civil, military, and commercial domains. However, the diversity and distribution of spacepower enables a wide range of alliances, partnerships, and shared interests. This complexity poses significant challenges to the U.S. and its allies to maintain spacepower.”

As with previous SFWs, this week’s workshop will produce a report later this year aligned with Space Force priorities and the Chief of Space Operations’ guidance, and will inform USSF decision-making going forward.

Previous SFW reports have analyzed strategic future space scenarios and explored the number and character of potential space players in the far future and their range of potential relationships to the Nation.

Dr. Victoria Coleman, Department of the Air Force Chief Scientist, spoke during the SFW and discussed the importance of commercial partnerships and a whole-of-government approach for a positive space future.

“We must develop civil, military, and commercial strategy to enable positive futures,” said Coleman. “If we are to compete with our great power rivals, we must invest in, promote and apply new space technologies where they make the most sense.

“Policy makers must create a favorable environment for both entrepreneurs and the government,” Coleman said. “Business leaders must work with government leaders to ensure a positive outcome for both.”

“Our space superiority can no longer be assumed,” said Mozer. “Every instrument of U.S. and Allied national power is underwritten by a secure, stable, and accessible space domain.”

“For many years, space was a benign environment; however, that is no longer the case. Our near-peer competitors have turned space into a heavily contested, congested warfighting domain. We must lean forward and look to the future or be prepared to lose our competitive edge.”

Space Operations Command is responsible for organizing, training, and equipping fielded space forces who execute space warfighting operations for combatant commanders, coalition partners, the joint force, and the nation. SpOC is first of three Space Force field commands and is headquartered on Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs.