Session Summary: Precious Space: A String of Satellites and the Future for Influence

Paul Jaffe, Electronics Engineer, U.S. Naval Research Laboratory, Washington, D.C.

Aarti Holla-Maini, Secretary-General, Association of all satellite operators in Europe, Middle-East and Africa, Brussels

Led by: Patrick Tucker, Technology Editor, Defence One, Washington, D.C.


Space was recognized by NATO as the fifth operational domain. It serves military purposes both on the earth orbits as well as on the ground. For a long period of time, the technologies came from military innovations, but now the private industry is taking over the innovation, rolling out the systems more rapidly, making the space access more routine.

With the increased space activity, it is even more important to establish adequate rules and regulations of the use of space as well as of the electromagnetic spectrum. Space is no longer a domain only of the governments and militaries, but also for the civilian sector, such as international mobile telecoms. Therefore, close dialogue between the public and private sector is inherent in further development.

As Aarti Holla-Maini, the Secretary-General of EMEA’s Satellite Operator’s Association in Brussels has pointed out, the importance of the private sector lies in increasing the understanding of the role of satellite in emerging technologies and systems, such as 5G or even 6G. Without a proper understanding of this, policymakers may find it difficult to tap the strengths of these systems.

Another challenge that is rising from the increased space activity is the threat of junk at low earth orbit, which can cause potential cascading collision or inference, threatening the functioning of existing systems. Both Holla-Maini and Paul Jaffe, an electronic engineer from the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory, have agreed that this is another important task for both public and private sectors, to cope with space debris.

Generally, to harness the opportunities that lie in the space, the cooperation among states, industries and international organizations must be strengthened to overcome all the potential risks that could arise from unregulated use of the domain.