Managing the Security Challenges from the Proliferation of Rendezvous and Proximity Operations Technology

Monday, April 30, 2018

SWF Director of Program Planning Dr. Brian Weeden took part in a dinner panel discussion on "Preventing Space Pearl Harbors" in Washington, DC. The event was organized by the Nonproliferation Policy Education Center and focused on the security challenges posed by the proliferation of rendezvous and proximity operations (RPO) technology. The speakers included Dr. Brian Chow, independent researcher; and Mr. Josh Hartman, Managing Partner of Renaissance Strategic Advisors.

Dr. Chow discussed how the proliferation of RPO technology and recent tests conducted by Russia and China could signal new threats for U.S. satellites, specifically the possibility of "space stalkers" that could disable U.S. satellites during a conflict. Mr. Hartman discussed the need to increase the resilience of U.S. national security space capabilities to address this possibility. Dr. Weeden talked about how this technology is being developed for both commercial and military applications, and the increased need for better space situational awareness and norms of behavior to help separate normal space activities from potential threats. Dr. Weeden discussed current initiatives, such as the CONFERS project to develop industry standards for RPO and satellite servicing and the Woomera Manual on international law and military space activities, as positive steps to help address some of these issues. 

Last updated on May 4, 2018