There’s a new intelligence unit in town.
On Friday, the US Space Force announced the establishment of Space Delta 18 and the National Space Intelligence Center, which will begin supplying US lawmakers with intelligence about the space domain.
Space Delta 18, so named because USSF is the 18th US entity to join the intelligence community, will employ 345 personnel in two former Air Force units:
- The 1st Space Analysis Squadron Mission, which will dig up intelligence on foreign space capabilities.
- The 2nd Space Analysis Squadron Mission, which will investigate potential threats to US space operations.
Why space intelligence? “The question is why do we need to stand up a National Space Intelligence Center, and the truth is that we needed a sharper focus on the space threat that is here today,” said Maj. Gen. Leah Lauderback, USSF director of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, per SpaceNews.
The key role space plays in our communications, national security, and intelligence makes it an attractive target. We’ve already seen attacks on the space domain play out on some scale.
- When Russia invaded Ukraine earlier this year, it also jammed satellite signals providing connectivity and GPS to the region.
- Four countries—Russia, China, the US, and India—have already demonstrated ASAT (anti-satellite) weapons capabilities.
USSF will be seeking out intelligence on foreign space capabilities and threats to help ensure the safety of US on-orbit assets, improve acquisition, and shape the future actions of the newest military branch.
“The opportunities for our nation in space are extraordinary,” said Avril Haines, US director of national intelligence. “Already, it is critical to our communications infrastructure, for early warning systems, for protecting our planet, our environment, for our national security, our intelligence and our prosperity.”