Officially designating the space sector as one of the “critical infrastructure” sectors designated by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is a “hot topic” of conversation at the agency, according to Tina Won Sherman, a director in the Government Accountability Office’s (GAO) Homeland Security and Justice team.

Over the past two decades, DHS has 16 critical infrastructure sectors for the U.S., including banking, information technology, energy, and other sectors.

Adding the space sector to that list has become an area of discussion in recent times both at DHS and at GAO, Sherman said at an August 4 event organized by Nextgov.

“We know that’s kind of a hot-topic conversation,” Sherman said. “There are efforts underway within the department to take a look at whether or not that would be an additional, perhaps 17th [critical infrastructure] sector,” she said.

The profile of the space sector has risen in recent years, evidenced by the creation of the U.S. Space Force in 2019, along with increased reliance on satellite-based communications.

Late last year, 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. INSA said 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” in 2013.

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Jose Rascon
Jose Rascon
Jose Rascon is a MeriTalk Staff Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.