The U.S. Space Force, the smallest and newest military branch, is looking to industry to serve as a leader in a number of innovative technology areas and to successfully collaborate with the service branch, according to Lisa Costa, Space Force’s chief technology and innovation officer.

Speaking during GovConWire’s DoD: Digital Modernization Forum today, Costa explained that collaboration with industry is “absolutely imperative” for two reasons: “the nature of the threat and the size of our Space Force, which is quite small.” The Space Force has approximately 16,000 military and civilian space personnel in its ranks – or less than one-tenth the size of the U.S. Marine Corps.

“This is a partnership and we need all of you to make Space Force successful,” Costa said. “We’re really looking to industry to lead in a number of these areas.”

“For example, Space Force won’t be putting up massive commercial infrastructure in space,” she continued. “However, we do know that our business partners who have business needs to support their customers will be doing that and we hope to be some of those customers.”

Costa explained Space Force looks to industry for areas such as cloud storage, cloud computing, critical computation for machine learning, and infrastructure in space, both in and across orbits.

One way Space Force currently works with industry is through its Hack-a-Sat competition, or hack-a-satellite, which serves as a way to “promote cybersecurity for space operations, enhance digital fluency, and demonstrate the desire to work with and learn from an international audience to improve our security practices,” Costa said.

Space Force also has a University Partnership Program, in which it works with universities, as well as industry partners, on innovative challenges of common interests, Costa said.

“It’s not just our responsibility to spin in technology in Space Force. It’s also our responsibility to spin out technology,” Costa said. “And what I mean by that is we create ideas, our guardians create great ideas. We don’t want to keep them, you know, under a rock. We want to push those out to industry and we want folks to really take on some of these challenges and help us solve them.”

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Grace Dille
Grace Dille
Grace Dille is MeriTalk's Assistant Managing Editor covering the intersection of government and technology.