The Intelligence and National Security Alliance – a trade group for the intel and national security communities – argues in a new white paper that the Federal government should classify United States space systems as critical infrastructure.

Currently, 16 U.S. sectors ranging from IT to chemicals to food are classified as critical infrastructure by Presidential Policy Directive 21 (PPD-21) and creates a national policy to protect them. According to the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), critical infrastructure are sectors “whose assets, systems, and networks, whether physical or virtual, are considered so vital to the United States that their incapacitation or destruction would have a debilitating effect on security, national economic security, national public health or safety, or any combination thereof.”

INSA said in announcing the release of the white paper that “space systems have become vital to U.S. national and economic security even though space-related assets were not considered as one of 16 critical infrastructure sectors designated” by PPD-21 in 2013.

“Space assets are now integrated into almost all essential sectors and functions, including defense, agriculture, transportation, energy, and telecommunications,” the trade group said. The designation of space assets as critical infrastructure, the group argued, “would enhance the resiliency of space-related assets and thereby make these other critical infrastructure sectors more secure.”

INSA said the space sector includes 3,300 satellites now in orbit, mission control and launch facilities, and “a wide range of companies and universities engaged in advanced research & development and technology deployment.”

“Space-related capabilities have become essential to both national security and economic security, yet countries like Russia and China – which have advanced offensive cyber capabilities and anti-satellite weapons – have the potential to take them offline,” commented Larry Hanauer, INSA’s Vice President for Policy. “Designating the space sector as part of the nation’s critical infrastructure would make it easier for government organizations, the military, and commercial space companies to share information on threats and vulnerabilities and thereby enhance the space sector’s resilience.”


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John Curran
John Curran
John Curran is MeriTalk's Managing Editor covering the intersection of government and technology.