This poses a variety of challenges for space operators, notably:
● Assured access. Users of unmanned and autonomous defence systems need to have guaranteed access to the space services or resources they rely on, at all times and to the full extent. This means that these services cannot be appropriated by other users or third parties. Also, recovery functions to quickly restore broken communication links need to be an integral part of the systems.
● Jamming and interference. Additionally, space services must be resilient to interference and must offer technical and procedural means to quickly remedy any interference that occurs on a service provided. Space system operators have to be able to identify the location and type of the interference or jamming source in order to take immediate and appropriate action.
● Interception and intrusion. Space services supporting unmanned and autonomous applications must guarantee full protection against any intruder trying to intercept transmitted data and information. This particular risk needs to be assessed throughout the process leading to the delivery of the space services. It requires a truly holistic approach which has to encompass the ground and space segments of the system, the deployed technologies, the industrial processes, the launch and operations of the satellites, and the users. Satellites and payloads hosting space
● Dependence on third parties. Specific attention needs to be paid to the risk of space projects becoming dependent on third parties (Third States and/or non-EU Organisations). Due to the sensitivity of national or European defence missions and operations in which unmanned and autonomous systems are used, such a dependency may not be acceptable as it could hamper Member States’ and the EU’s autonomy of action.
Galileo/EGNOS, Copernicus and GOVSATCOM
The European Union and its Member States are taking these challenges seriously. They have established an EU-owned positioning, navigation and timing capability (Galileo/ EGNOS) and set up an EU space-based earth observation programme (Copernicus).
Another important proposal is currently under consideration: the EU initiative on Governmental Satellite Communication (GOVSATCOM). With the EU GOVSATCOM project, secure and guaranteed access to satellite communications will be provided for EU security and defence actors.
Although Galileo/EGNOS is a civilian programme, Member States’ military users and the European Commission are expanding their cooperation to identify potential Galileo/ EGNOS services which could also benefit the Armed Forces. Under the EU Copernicus civilian programme, the specific ’Support to External Action’ service is able to deliver products that can be of interest to EU military users and EU operations. On the other hand, EU GOVSATCOM is perceived as a dual-use capability and its intention is to support civilian and military user communities for crisis management, surveillance and key infrastructures.