CISA Launches Space Systems Critical Infrastructure Working Group

The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) announced the formation of a Space Systems Critical Infrastructure Working Group, a mix of government and industry members that will identify and develop strategies to minimize risks to space systems that support the nation’s critical infrastructure. The Working Group will operate under the Critical Infrastructure Partnership Advisory Council (CIPAC) framework, bringing together space system critical infrastructure stakeholders.

The critical infrastructure on which the United States depends relies on space systems. Increasing the security and resilience of space systems is essential to supporting the American people, economy, and homeland security.

“Secure and resilient space-based assets are critical to our economy, prosperity, and our national security,” said CISA Acting Director Brandon Wales. “This cross sector working group will lay the foundation for our collective defense against the threats we face today and in the future.”

This working group will serve as an important mechanism to improve the security and resilience of commercial space systems. It will identify and offer solutions to areas that need improvement in both the government and private sectors and will develop recommendations to effectively manage risk to space based assets and critical functions.

The working group is co-chaired by Jim Platt, Chief, Strategic Defense Initiatives, CISA and John Galer, Assistant Vice President, National Security Space, Aerospace Industries Association. Current members represent government and industry organizations from the communications, critical manufacturing, defense industrial base, information technology, and transportation sectors, including leading-edge satellite and space asset infrastructure firms with expertise in emerging technology areas.

FAA Should Examine a Range of Options to Support U.S. Launch Infrastructure

Demand for commercial space launches is expected to increase. Twelve launch sites in The US held operator licenses in Aug. 2020, and 11 more were seeking licenses from the Federal Aviation Administration.
Congress asked the FAA to recommend ways to facilitate and promote investments in space transportation infrastructure. The FAA told the GAO that its response would focus on 2 existing FAA grant programs.
Launch providers support the deployment of people and payloads, such as national security and commercial satellites or research probes, into space. The majority of these providers told GAO that U.S. space transportation infrastructure—located at sites across the country—is generally sufficient for them to meet their customers' current requirements. This situation is in part a result of the launch providers' investments in launch sites, along with state and local funding. Launch providers and site operators alike seek future improvements but differ on the type and location of infrastructure required. Some launch providers said that infrastructure improvements would be required to increase launch capacity at existing busy launch sites, while a few site operators said that new infrastructure and additional launch sites would help expand the nation's overall launch capacity.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) was directed by statute to make recommendations to Congress on how to facilitate and promote greater investments in space transportation infrastructure, among other things. However, FAA's initial draft report was limited because it focused only on two existing FAA programs, rather than a range of options. FAA officials stated that they did not examine other options because of limited time and resources, and that the two identified programs could be implemented quickly because FAA has administrative authority to manage them. Leading practices in infrastructure investment emphasize the importance of conducting an examination of potential approaches, which can help identify how best to support national interests; avoid overlap or duplication of federal effort; and enhance, not substitute, participation by non-federal stakeholders. An examination may also help identify alternatives to making funding available, such as increasing efficiency and capacity through technology improvements. By focusing only on these existing programs, FAA may overlook other options that better meet federal policy goals and maximize the effect of any federal investment. Although FAA has already prepared its initial report to respond to the statute, it still has opportunities, such as during subsequent mandated updates, to report separately on potential approaches.
Demand for commercial space launches is anticipated to increase in the coming years. FAA, the agency responsible for overseeing the sites where these launches occur, was directed by statute to submit a report—and update it every 2 years until December 2024—that makes recommendations on how to facilitate and promote greater investments in space transportation infrastructure.