Understanding Space Security
A CSIS Executive Education Course
Offered at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Understanding Space Security is led by space security experts, including former senior military and civilian space leaders, industry practitioners, and space security scholars. Participants have the opportunity to learn and network with other professionals interested in understanding the space domain, the evolution of space policy, and the future of the U.S. national security space enterprise. Participants take part in lectures and group discussions, culminating in an international space crisis tabletop exercise.
Applicants should have a demonstrated interest in international security, space policy, missile defense, or other related areas.
Designed for working professionals, Understanding Space Security is held at CSIS’ headquarters in Washington, D.C., over the course of three days. All course information will be presented in an educational, bipartisan, and nonpolitical manner.
The Understanding Space Security curriculum includes a series of seminars featuring CSIS scholars and guest contributors including:
- Former senior military and policy leaders from the space community;
- Technical experts on space security issues; and
- Independent space security scholars.
Each seminar will include suggested pre-reading and a moderated small group discussion.
Space Crisis Dynamics Tabletop Exercise
The third day of the Understanding Space Security course is dedicated to an immersive tabletop exercise. Participants will practice the concepts presented in the course’s seminar series by testing a range of scenarios in which conflict might begin or extend into space to understand how actions and reactions are perceived in different situations. The scenarios will change and adapt as small groups of participants make choices to protect space assets in a multi-domain environment.
After the exercise, the small groups will join a panel of space security experts for a debrief of the exercise and a discussion focusing on the unique escalation and deterrence dynamics in the space domain.
The Understanding Space Security curriculum encompasses a wide range of technical, budgetary, and policy issues in the space domain. Course topics include:
Understanding the Space Environment
The physical properties of objects in orbit make the space environment unlike any other physical domain. What is different about operating in the space environment? How do satellites in different orbital regimes help contribute to military operations on the ground? How do satellites get into orbit, and what physical laws govern how they maneuver and operate in space?
Space is simultaneously a powerful enabler for the United States and a critical vulnerability. What types of counterspace weapons could be used to threaten U.S. assets on orbit? What is publicly known about the counterspace weapons other countries and non-state actors are developing and deploying?
Space Situational Awareness and Space Traffic Management
With plans to launch thousands of new satellites over the next ten years, more than doubling the number of objects orbiting the Earth, space traffic management is becoming more critical than ever before. What causes congestion in popular orbital regimes? How do space actors prevent space objects from interfering with the operational missions? What laws, regulations, and international treaties govern space traffic?
Military Space Organization
How best to organize the national security space enterprise has been a recurring subject of debate for more than two decades. In 2018, the Trump Administration announced its support for creating a U.S. Space Force. What are the different options being considered for reorganizing national security space, and what does it mean for the future of U.S. national security space programs?
New Space Actors
The Trump Administration emphasized public-private partnerships in space as one of its top priorities with the reinstatement of the National Space Council, the signing of Space Policy Directive 1, and the 2017 National Security Strategy, which prioritized the improvement of U.S. space architecture resiliency. Who are the new actors in the space domain and how are they disrupting the space industry and the way the U.S. government uses space?
History of U.S. Military Space Missions
The U.S. military relies on space-based capabilities for a wide range of missions. This session will explore how the military and intelligence community uses space for strategic advantage. What military missions are best performed from space? What are the advantages and disadvantages of using space-based systems for different missions? What are the implications of the U.S. military’s dependence on space in the broader strategic competition?
Weaponization of Outer Space
The space domain has been used by militaries around the world for decades. What has the impact of militarizing space been and what does that mean for the weaponization of the space domain? What are the current legal and treaty restrictions on weapons in space and what are organizations such as the United Nations doing to keep space peaceful?
Escalation and Deterrence in Space
On October 4, 1957, the Soviet Union launched Sputnik 1, the first human-made object to orbit the Earth. Sixty-one years later, space-faring nations face a much different space environment; one that’s more diverse, disruptive, disordered, and dangerous. How can traditional deterrence theory be applied to the space domain?