Space: Canada’s Defence Space Program
Nov 15, 2008

This issue of FrontLine Defence is dedicated to the Canadian Defence Space Program. As the Director of the recreated D Space D, nested under Chief Force Development (DND’s Space Champion), it gives me great pleasure to share with you our space capability development roadmap and thoughts on the growing importance that space plays on the defence and security agenda.

DRDC personnel discuss waveguide and feed horn equipment to be used on the 9.1-metre parabolic reflector.

The mandate of D Space D is to foster the development of a comprehensive defence space program to exploit the medium of space in order to contribute to the national defence, security, and sovereignty interests of Canada. An important part of this mandate is to understand our inherent dependency on space systems as well as properly characterize and, when possible, mitigate vulnerabilities in that very unique environment.

Space is more than just an environment through which we fly (orbit) Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) ­sensors. The Sense component of space is important, and represents a major investment area in our program. Space, however, is also an environment with Command, Shield, Act, Generate and Sustain components. Addressing only one in isolation is a strategic mistake that limits our ability to fully exploit and provide assured access to space-based capabilities. It was that ­realization that led DND’s leadership to resurrect D Space D within CFD following its demise in 2006.

Today, Canadians, as well as most people in developed and developing countries, rely on space in the general conduct of their daily activities. Our financial systems, electrical grids, telecommunications, commercial fishery, agriculture, natural resource management and aircraft movements rely on Position, Navigation and Timing provided by the GPS constellation. Satellite communication is an area where the commercial market generated a demand for a space infrastructure that is now heavily leveraged by military forces worldwide. The information that fuels our national power flows through these space lines of communications.

From a Defence and Security perspective, space based capabilities emerged from a force multiplier status during the first Gulf War to a critical enabler in current military operations. Our Commanders depend on the precision provided by GPS to enhance the agility of forces and synchronize ­precise joint fires in complex operating environments. Satellite communications enable us to exercise command and control on a global scale through secure, protected, dedicated and survivable links. Space based search and rescue capabilities contribute to force protection. The benefits of satellite surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities over areas otherwise inaccessible already support our Commanders’ information requirements. Advancements in technology make it possible to field affordable and comprehensive space-based ISR capabilities to help mitigate many of our most important capability gaps. Our dependency on space-based capabilities is such that the CF must question its ability to achieve operational success in theatres where access to space capabilities would be denied or severely limited.

One can easily argue that space effects, derived through the space and ground segments and associated links, are part of our national fabric – they are now so intertwined in our daily lives that they form part of our national infrastructure and as such need to be nurtured and protected. In fact, in both the civilian sector and in military operations, space is emerging as a “centre of gravity,” affecting the full spectrum of activities from the strategic to the tactical realms. In other words, the loss of space systems would ­significantly impair civilian activities (such as communications and navigation) and would greatly put at risk the successful accomplishment of military operations.
Artist renditions of the U.S. AEHF satellite.

To address these important elements, our force development efforts have been grouped under the following main Lines of Operations (LOO):

• Surveillance of Space. A foundational component of space control, Space Situational Awareness (SSA) provides commanders with an appreciation of space as a distinct environment. The output of SSA is a space common operating picture that contains information on environmental conditions (space weather) as well as positional/capability/health information on all space objects (currently numbering in the thousands). This foundational data set is critical to support the decision-making processes related to space Shield and Act capabilities (e.g., maneuver satellite approaching another or debris, differentiate natural from man-made effects and support attribution). Projects such as SAPPHIRE and NEOSSat support this line of operation. Close cooperation with the United States is critical to ensure success in this area.
• Surveillance from Space. Space-based ISR capabilities help mitigate Earth-based Sense domain deficiencies such as our limited capability/capacity to monitor activities in the Arctic, our maritime approaches and support expeditionary operations. Polar Epsilon is our flagship in this LOO and will deliver Arctic land surveillance and near real-time ship detection capabilities to support Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA). Polar Epsilon marks a new era for space-based ISR as the primary output of the project is focused on the operational vice the intelligence community. D Space D is also actively engaged in the definition phase of the RADARSAT Constellation Mission (RCM) led by the Canadian Space Agency (CSA). Increasing the number of satellites will yield significant improvements in coverage (i.e., persistence benefits). The Joint Space Support Project will enable rapid delivery in theatre (domestic or expeditionary) of the growing capability represented by commercial satellite imagery services. M3MSat, a joint DRDC and CSA microsatellite project will develop/demonstrate advanced maritime Automatic Identification System reception and processing technologies to enhance MDA. The attributes of space systems (wide area surveillance, overflight, global, low personnel, operations and maintenance costs, etc.) suggest that this LOO will continue to generate significant capability enhancement in the future. Close cooperation with the Canadian Space Agency and Other Government Departments (OGDs) is critical to our success in this area.

• Communications and Search & Rescue. The Chief of Force Development, as the “Environmental Chief of Staff” for Space, recently accepted sponsorship responsibility from ADM (IM) for the ­Protected Military Satellite Communication (PMSC) Project. The PMSC will provide dedicated, global, secure, protected, and survivable communications capabilities to the CF.

The Project will secure a portion of the bandwidth on the US Advance Extremely High Frequency AEHF satellite constellation as well as procure static, transportable and mobile ground terminals. Over the next year, D Space D will increase its understanding of the CF SATCOM requirements to properly champion the force development of this critical joint capability. An important Command capability gap is our limited ability to effectively communicate with deployed forces north of 65° in latitude.

D Space D is exploring options to fill this gap through the CSA led Polar Communication and Weather satellite constellation as well as other international opportunities. DND remains a strong ­supporter of the international COSPAS-SARSAT initiative.

Over the last 15 years, DND has invested and leveraged space’s wide area surveillance attributes to monitor, receive and relay precise Emergency Locator ­Transmitter signals to Rescue Coordination Centres. D Space D will design and implement a long-term plan to ensure this ­critical information remains available to support our Departmental Search And Rescue responsibility.
• Navigation, Position and Timing (NPT). The aim of our NPT LOO is to protect Alliance/Coalition use of GPS while preventing hostile use and preserving civil use outside a theatre of operations. Activities are primarily focused on research and development with important education and training components. Would we be able to conduct operations in a GPS-denied environment? Do we have these tactics, techniques and procedures in place today?

The following additional activities support all LOO and are integral to CFD’s ability to exercise his space functional authority responsibilities: a robust concept development capability to ensure long-lead force development activities are properly focused; an effective exploitation strategy closely linked with DRDC to field world leading capabilities such as Polar Epsilon; and a small skilled staff to support our international relations and engagement strategy, policy development support and work with the Canadian Space Agency and OGDs on a comprehensive approach to space exploitation in support of broad Canadian interests.

Lastly, DND needs to refocus on the fundamental requirements to develop personnel that understand how space can enhance core military capabilities. DND also requires personnel with the education and experience to contribute to departmental policy, force development activities, and to ensure our Commands are equipped to maximize space-derived effects in support of domestic and expeditionary operations. Much work needs to be done in the future to ensure our personnel development strategy delivers on these requirements.

Humans have exploited the land environment for over 70,000 years, the maritime environment for 6,000 years and the air environment for 100 years. We have only been engaged in space for the last 50 years. In these few years however, our dependency on space effects has increased exponentially. As a result, space is no longer just a force multiplier, it is critical to our information driven society. We need to enhance our understanding of vulnerabilities vis-à-vis space-derived effects. Space has become the Achilles’ heal of information-driven societies. As in the maritime environment, space control – the ability to command, sense, shield and act – exists to ensure that the lines of communications remain open. Space Control exists so our commanders maintain information superiority. We seek and promote broad engagements and professional debate on the role that space plays today, or in the future, in the pursuit of our national interests and in particular, our national security interests. Ultimately, a well conceived, designed and operationalized space strategy serves the interests of all Canadians, our national defence portfolio, and ultimately promotes international peace and security. Enjoy this edition of FrontLine Defence.

Colonel François Malo is Director Space Development (D Space D), Chief of Force Development (CFD).
© Frontline Defence 2008