President’s Space Council Discusses Vulnerability, GPS-Independent PNT

October 11, 2017

Editor’s Note: The President reestablished the National Space Council in June and it recently held its first meeting.  While furthering America’s efforts in space were discussed, the importance and vulnerability of space assets were also reviewed at some length.  See the article in SpacePolicyOnline.com. Of particular interest to our readers is this excerpt (“Griffin” is former NASA Administrator Mike Griffin):

“Griffin’s message was that the “best chance to avoid conflict in space is to be so strong that no one wishes to take us on.”  He pointed out how commercial space assets are critical to national security space, with 80 percent of national security communications going through commercial systems.   Space systems also are critical to the nation’s economy.  The Global Positioning System (GPS) of positioning, navigation, and timing (PNT) satellites underpin the economy including ATM and other point-of-sale transactions.   While not one satellite might be lost,  Griffin asked “to what extent do we believe we’ve defended ourselves if the enemy can bring the economic system to a halt?”

Space Council member Tom Bossert, President Trump’s adviser on Homeland Security, honed in on GPS vulnerabilities.  Griffin stressed that the United States must make clear “what we will and will not accept. We need to be clear that an attack on space assets [like GPS] is an attack on the United States.”  However, he continued, the United States must also focus on developing  “GPS-independent” methods of providing PNT.”