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The Space Imperative: A Whole-of-Nation Approach to a Sustainable, Secure, and Resilient Space Domain

By Kerry Buckley, Ph.D. , Andy Anderegg , Lisa Bembenick , Paul O’Donnell , James Swartout , John Giles

U.S. leadership in space is at a critical juncture. Commercial, civil, and military stakeholders need to take a whole-of-nation approach to handle the increased competition in space, according to a study by MITRE and the Aspen Institute.

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For over 60 years, the United States has enjoyed unfettered access to space, which has allowed the U.S. to develop high-end military capabilities and, more recently, a burgeoning commercial space industry. As U.S.-led activity in space expands beyond its government-led roots to the commercial sector, new challenges have emerged, centered on the regulation and organization of U.S. efforts. Tied to this swiftly evolving space landscape, U.S. national and economic security are now inextricably intertwined and depend on the security, resilience, and sustainability of all U.S. space systems. 

In recognition of the space domain’s importance to national and economic security, and the challenges of the changing landscape, MITRE and Aspen Digital, a program of the Aspen Institute, partnered to host a series of cross-sector space stakeholder sessions focused on securing space and maintaining U.S. technological advantage. Participants included industry, government, academia, non-profits, and federally funded research and development centers. The stakeholder sessions identified three overarching challenges, to which this report makes corresponding recommendations.