In 2019, the Federal Republic of Germany joined the initiative Combined Space Operations or CSpO. Its joint policy paper entitled “Vision 2031” stands for a consolidation of this multinational cooperation aimed at preparing space operations that ensure a secure, peaceful and sustainable use of space.
Together with its partner nations Australia, Canada, France, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States, Germany presented this policy document which covers the next ten years. It is seen as an important step towards more transparency and confidence building. In Vision 2031, the Combined Space Operations initiative for the first time publicly lays down its common positions on aspects of security and defence policy in space.
The paper lists common interests, principles and priorities for ensuring a secure, sustainable and peaceful use of space and to create the basis for conducting combined military space operations. It also lays down strategic objectives and lines of effort for further cooperation. It primarily focuses on the secure provision of space-based services by improving interoperability and enhancing resilience. On the whole, it aims at ensuring the free and sustainable use of space.
Just as on land and at sea, peaceful coexistence in space is a crucial issue. An increasing number of satellites and space debris, for example, are found in more and more densely used space that has strategic as well as economic relevance. This alone can potentially lead to misunderstandings, clashes or conflicts. At the same time, space systems are increasingly threatened by the behaviour of some states. Various countries have shown, for example, that they are able to engage satellites from Earth, approach other countries’ satellites in space as well as interfere with the functioning of satellite-based sensors and communication systems in space or from the ground. Irresponsible behaviour towards such systems could therefore diminish the military effectiveness of affected countries in cases of conflict. What is more, there is a lack of widely accepted norms for responsible behaviour in space.
All this is increasingly jeopardising stability in a sphere that has long since become an integral part of international security policy. Space-based technology has also become indispensable in many areas of everyday life. Communications, navigation, Earth observation or weather services are examples of this, but also fields in which space-based timing signals are used for synchronisation, such as traffic or financial transactions. Conflict prevention and the unrestricted use of space are therefore the key objectives of the CSpO participants.
The Combined Space Operations initiative (CSpO) was founded in 2014 and is a multilateral forum for improving space cooperation and building common, interoperable and resilient capabilities in space. The CSpO participants work to maintain a secure, stable, peaceful and sustainable use of space.
The CSpO nations seek to be responsible partners in space and to contribute in the long term to a rules-based international order in space. On the basis of applicable international law, however, they also want to create the prerequisites for protecting and defending themselves against hostile space activities. With all nations maintaining their sovereignty in matters of national security, they will cooperate closely in questions of space security. CSpO aims to improve cooperation, coordination, interoperability, resilience, training and both national and collective capabilities for joint military operations in space. To protect these operations, a robust space architecture will be established which will respond to attacks or changes in orbit. The creation of space debris is also to be reduced.
Germany needs outer space. The Federal Republic is highly dependent on the use of space owing to its digitally interconnected society and economy and its technologically sophisticated armed forces. Like every modern force, the Bundeswehr in many ways depends on the unrestricted availability of space-based services and products. By establishing the Bundeswehr Space Command, the German armed forces have responded to the increasing demands of the space domain. CSpO cooperation serves to ensure mutual support and burden-sharing at the multinational level, in particular through the exchange of information and the optimised use of resources. In the event of conflict, this will ensure that the operational readiness of the Bundeswehr is maintained.