Season Two | Episode 15
Connected and Protected: Mastering the New Battlespace
Thank you to our guest on this episode of Lockheed Martin Space Makers for his time and expertise:
Eric Brown from Lockheed Martin
To dig deeper into some of the topics referenced in today’s episode, please follow these links:
[00:00:00] Host: Welcome to Lockheed Martin Space Makers, the podcast that takes you out of this world for an inside look at some of our most challenging and innovative missions. My name is Ben, and I'll be your host.
[00:00:14] In season two, we explore Lockheed Martin's bold new vision of a future we call "Space 2050." We partnered with our Advanced Technology Center to bring you an inside look at the innovations and technologies we are developing to make that future a reality. Because getting there is just the beginning.
[00:00:35] The future of Space may not be entirely peaceful. Just like how we have conflicts here on Earth, it's expected that we will have conflicts in orbit. And the last few decades have given us a preview of the types of challenges we will face in this new contested environment. So how is Lockheed Martin pioneering 21st Century security that protects America and its allies now and into the future? My colleague Natalya Oleksik takes a closer look.
[00:01:06] Natalya: Today we are joined by Eric Brown, Vice President of Military Space Advanced Program Development for Lockheed Martin Space. We’re here to talk about connected and protected and how Eric is looking at U.S. Government future capabilities that will guide our military capabilities across missions ranging from communications, to navigation, to missile warning and defense. Can you tell us a little bit about how events on Earth impact what we're doing in space right now?
[00:01:56] Eric Brown: Absolutely. If we look back some 30 years people will oftentimes site the first, quote/unquote, space war as Desert Storm back in 19- you know, in the '89 to '91 kind of timetable. And during that period we saw the use of space capabilities to really guide our troops and give a disproportionate advantage to the US forces on the ground. Over the last 30 years since then we've seen time and again that space has provided really this set of capabilities that have really become, in a lot of ways, the envy of other nations and a recognition that the only way you can really compete at this point in time is to integrate space with your other domains. Well, that hasn't been lost on our adversaries.
[00:02:42] So in the last handful of weeks or over the last month or so, of course we see the events in Russia and the Ukraine and I think that we've taken that move from the idea of space war being the use of space in order to enable other domains and now we see that our adversaries or that, other nations are bringing it to the new level, which is the employment of space to deny the opportunity for us to use space in support of other activities. We've seen in open press statements of Russia employing both electronic warfare and cyber attacks on various space assets, especially in the commercial domain. And that's really going to be the mark trend in the future as we recognize that it's not just going to be a conflict terrestrially in a conventional form but really in some ways the first shots fired in future conflicts my very well take place in cyber space and in outer space.
[00:03:44] Natalya: So, space has become the higher ground?
[00:03:46] Eric Brown: It has been the higher ground for some time. The question now is how many ways can we employ it from a high ground advantage and more importantly, how our adversaries want to deny us that high ground going forward and likewise, vice versa.
[00:04:02] Natalya: And that struggle you predict will play out in space not on the ground, is that correct?
[00:04:07] Eric Brown: So it's a mix of two elements because you know certainly in today's environment space isn't divided from the other domains and is becoming more and more integral. So, we recognize from reporting again unclassified reporting from the Defense Intelligence Agency and from NASIC that there are a variety of capabilities that our adversaries are building to deny us things in space. In December we saw Russia launch a direct ascent anti-satellite weapon and blow up one of their own space vehicles to prove that they could do it and to saber rattle and as we know now really to in anticipation of the threats to keep us from being able to openly engage in some ways in the things that they were planning on doing, trying to keep us off. But that's not the only way they could engage.
[00:04:56] In addition you still have that ground infrastructure, the ground capabilities that our adversaries are gonna wanna deny as well. So you have to look at the entire chain in terms of the security and the capabilities we've got to maintain constant presence of our ground stations, of our terminals, avoid jamming. But also certainly from those things that they could do both from a destructive standpoint and a non-destructive standpoint on orbit.
[00:04:59] Natalya: What would be the most important technology that we're developing here at Lockheed Martin that can help us achieve that goal?
[00:05:05] Eric Brown: So certainly, from the space side of things our adversaries are always going to adapt and we're going to adapt to them. If we come up with the greatest mouse trap ever in order to prevent them from being able to deny us space on orbit, you know, some sort of countermeasure. I think towards the trunk monkey advertisement I saw at the Superbowl some 10 or 15 years ago where someone tried to come and get in your car and you would push a button and a monkey would jump out of the trunk and come and stop someone. So if we had the equivalent of a trunk monkey on orbit, you know eventually our adversaries are going to respond to that.
[00:05:41] So what Lockheed Martin has been investing in is really the actual capability to adapt. We developed something called our Aspen Docking Port as an open-source standard to the community both for the vehicles that could be augmented and for augmenting vehicles. But the idea of this Aspen Docking Port is that we can allow our space vehicles to adapt over a period of time. If our adversaries come up with great new ideas we're able to then respond in kind. And I believe that what we're gonna find in the future is that the real- the real strength from a force structure standpoint, we succeed, or we fail, is the ability to rapidly adapt on the fly as our adversaries look at what we're doing.
[00:06:23] Natalya: How much has that been tested so far?
[00:06:26] Eric Brown: So, far we've been able to demonstrate the Aspen Docking Port in what we call our Space Operations Simulation Center, SOSC, which is located in our facility in Waterton out in Colorado. And this is the same facility that we employed to do a dress rehearsal on the OSIRIS-REx mission to the Bennu asteroid. And effectively this entire facility, which his built on one of the largest slates of bedrock in the world, is allowing us to get a level of stability such that we can fully demonstrate what it is to operate in zero-g. We can do gravity offloads and such.
[00:07:05] So we demonstrated in there that we could do the docking using a series of robots to simulate what the real life environment would be. And the next step is to actually fly it on orbit, which we're doing- we're working with multiple government partners in a series of individual demonstrations. Some on the rendezvous proximity operations and docking capability itself and some on the docking adapter. So we expect that those are going- those on orbit demonstrations will be complete within the next 18 to 24 months we're hoping and that we'll be on ramping two programs shortly thereafter with that base lining in all future space vehicles that Lockheed Martin develops.
[00:07:47] Natalya: A large part of an effective strategy is employing anticipation. Do you anticipate that our current adversaries, as we defined them, are doing exactly what you talked about there that we are doing here with Aspen?
[00:08:01] Eric Brown: There are a lot of different ways to in gender adaptation and adaptability within a platform. We've felt that the optimal way to do it is through this Aspen Docking augmentation approach. Our adversaries are certainly going to be looking at ways that they can drive adaptation and adaptability into their own vehicles whether they choose to go down a route like we've chosen with Aspen or if they choose to use robotics or they choose to use some other approach. It's yet to be seen. We'll be tracking that closely for certain to understand where they want to drive things.
[00:08:41] But a lot of it plays into, what are the strengths of their respective economies and force structures? And one of the things that we see as a real strength in certainly the US and our allies' economies is around the innovation of small businesses, of the ability to get broader industry motivated. And so, by creating the Aspen Docking Adapter and that entire ecosystem, we're opening the door such that the likes not just of a Lockheed Martin or our near peers are able to contribute to the national security environment but rather a whole series of smaller businesses can be contributing these space satellite augmentation vehicles into the economy and able to really drive a step up in capability for the country and our allies.
[00:09:30] I think that's something that you know when we think about strategies as a country and as a coalition it's really about playing to those strengths versus considering you know some that the Chinese or the Russians might do.
[00:09:44] Natalya: How would you characterize this race to develop new technologies for the new battle space in terms of how it's impacting our economies and cultures?
[00:09:53] Eric Brown: So, some five or six years ago General John Hyten was speaking to the media and he began discussing the idea of space as a war fighting domain. Frankly, it was the first time that anyone overtly started discussing the idea that we were going to be in a conflict oriented environment from a space perspective. And since then as we've observed in certainly an open source media and obviously I'm not gonna go into classified details but we've been in a constant conflict that could be you know reminiscent of arms races of the past. As we think about the kinds of capabilities our adversaries are trying to develop while we simultaneously are looking at our own capabilities it is undoubtedly going to be a way that you know warfare is shaped in the future in terms of the demands that we'll place on space.
[00:10:45] From an economic standpoint I think it creates you know in a lot of ways a number of new opportunities certainly for developing unique capabilities across the coalition for reaching across to our allies because our allies, the United Kingdom, Australia, others, see this as a critical need as well now and it allows us to have greater collaboration and coordination in the same that we do- way we do in other domains. When the F-35 was intended to be developed the first thing that the United States did was reach across the coalition of allies and I think we're going to see that increasingly here. So that, certainly from an economic standpoint, is beneficial.
[00:11:26] There is a double edge to that sword though because to date commercial operators have been able to operate with impunity. There wasn't a concern for the things that might threaten their assets on orbit unless it was something like you know an errant meteorite or someone had made a mistake about you know where other satellites were located and resulted in collision. Now especially as some commercial operators are you know considering how they might engage you know with our allies in times of conflict they have to be considering what does that, quote/unquote, arms race imply for their environment. And I think it's gonna play out over the next five years or so.
[00:12:08] Natalya: What types of moves are the international community making to in some manner not police that but manage, organize, build structure around so there's not this collision of civil effort and military need in space?
[00:12:23] Eric Brown: I think probably the best analog to employ and certainly the one that a lot of people are thinking towards is around aviation. So, you know domestically in the United States we have the FAA that regulates the aviation environment and it has handshakes around the world. At the time where we see a conflict beginning, that operational responsibility then shifts over for a number of things to the Department of Defense. And I think you're going to see something similar emerging. Certainly within the US there was a desire to push the responsibility for space traffic management as an analog against air traffic management over to Department of Commerce but at the same time recognizing that there would be you know requirements for direct collaboration and handshakes with the Department of Defense.
[00:13:18] And on a global scale that same discussing is ongoing where we see the US Department of Defense working with our allies in terms of the set of expectations in a conflict environment and absolutely we hear coming out of the White House an intention to drives towards norms and standards that will regulate the way that we operate both in peace time and in war to some degree. But that's a lot of negotiation going on given the state of regulation that governs space today and certainly a lot more work to be done in that.
[00:13:50] Natalya: And everything you talk about as well is inherently implies connectivity, right? So, we have all these elements going up into space, we have these capabilities, we have now adversaries who are capable of shutting down our capabilities. What are we doing at Lockheed to establish a secure connection within our various programs and hardware and software that are up in space so that we have a secured, connected environment to be strategically superior when it comes to the battle space?
[00:14:21] Eric Brown: So, I think there are really three levels to that question. The first directly relates to our own investments in cyber security. Something that whether we're talking space or air, you know whatever the domain may be is increasingly a crucial dimension, something that Lockheed Martin has invested very, very heavily in where we think about the cyber implications as an integral part of any kind of system that we build. And something that certainly we believe we can- need to continue emphasizing as the systems mature in the future.
[00:14:56] The second piece is in terms of the actual connectivity and capabilities of the space systems themselves as we look toward evolving beyond what we've got today. Lockheed Martin is the prime on the advanced EHF program, on the MUOS program and we're constantly investing in not only the cyber security piece but the ability to- for those future systems for the next MUOS type satellite, for the next strategic communications satellite to be able to continue with the robust connectivity that it has historically and really to pull in- more and more capability out of those assets both in terms of what we've got on orbit today by providing sustainment capabilities but also in developing the next generation.
[00:15:44] I think the third though is probably the most exciting to me. And that is when we start talking about connecting across different assets on orbit. So, historically when a constellation was built if we think about something like advanced EHF, it was built for a specific set of purposes around you know strategic communications, nuclear command and control, variety of other things and it was basically treated in a single silo, and you would see every other constellation being developed and deployed for their respective purposes. In the future we're seeing the opportunity to actually connect across satellites.
[00:16:20 So, imagine if you will taking a future missile warning satellite sitting at geosynchronous orbit. Historically it was principally used for being able to provide attribution knowing that there was a missile potentially inbound and knowing where it came from. And it would- could provide some, what we call, tipping and queuing to you know ground-based radars or whatever the case may be. Now the question is could we provide connectivity between that and maybe a missile tracking satellite that's sitting at a different orbital regime and that in turn to a fire control satellite sitting at you know a low earth orbit and then ultimately directly connecting into the weapons systems so that you're closing this loop from the point where you're aware that there's a missile in the air to the point where it's directly intercepted.
[00:17:10] And that- the key to that is this idea of- of ubiquitous connectivity. We've developed a model around that we've been sharing with the US government and with some of the allies that we call our Space Data Transport Tapestry. With Lockheed Martin being the prime on the space development agency's transport layer tranche zero and one, it really provides a great foundation for then creating broader connectivity across space assets using the things that we've got today and ensuring that we're developing that interconnectivity for the future.
[00:17:41] But as you mentioned before, Natalia, it really does come down a lot to ensuring that you have the confidence that you're able to close those links in a safe way from a cyber perspective. And we're taking that even to the next level where we look at bringing in commercial operators and ensuring that they are able to operate in a safe way as well within that tapestry context.
[00:18:05] Natalya: When you say tapestry, are you referring to JADO essentially as well? I'm just clarifying that.
[00:18:10] Eric Brown: So, JADO is really an endpoint in some respects. The JADO efforts talk towards how we can create the connectivity between space and let's say the air domain. An F-35 is a tremendous sensor platform and has a great amount of capability and if synergized then with satellites on orbit can do even more from the ability to provide connectivity elsewhere to bring in additional sensors. That's what JADO has really been aiming to solve or JADC2, Joint All-Domain Command and Control, has really been looking to solve.
[00:18:52] The additional piece that the Space Data Transport Tapestry concept brings into play is how do you involve not only a single layer of assets on space, but how do you get all of those additional space assets talking to one another? How can a GPS satellite, for example, provide navigation signals as well as serving as a conduit for communication perhaps to a fire control satellite that's also bringing in data from other sensors so that you can synthesize a single critical piece of intelligence on orbit versus having to bring it down to the ground, conduct a bunch of analysis and then send it out again. We're looking at how we can create more of that processing and more of that solution making on the edge so that the war fighters get exactly what they need when they need it.
[00:19:41] Natalya: You're talking about mixing civilian and military need at this point and ground and space need. Where does space force come in on that?
[00:19:50] Eric Brown: Space force has really been stood up to provide the organized train and equip elements where they're presenting forces to respective commands, especially to United space- United States Space Command. And the space force is really the one who is pulling all of this together. I mean the Space Force has a commercial cell that it- a commercial integration cell that it is bringing in a lot of those other players. They have established through space systems command a space systems integration office that reaches out across a variety of acquisition organizations and ensures that they're bringing the best of breed to space command or to the other combatant commands in the event of conflict.
[00:20:30] What we're aiming to do really is just in support of the Space Force. We see the engine of architectural analysis and creativity that is currently within Lockheed Martin as something that can really contribute to the space force's mission as it's developing that set of- that set of tools for the future, the- certainly the new space vehicles, the new ground capabilities, but also in- even in training regimes, in looking at how we're helping to develop the future guardians because of the intimate knowledge we have of the space vehicles. Really it's a partnership between Lockheed Martin and the Space Force looking towards the future on what combatant commands really need and how do we stitch together all of these things?
[00:21:15] The one other piece that is unique here is at least historically and a lot of what the Space Force is able to do bridges this. But historically we've benefited at Lockheed Martin by- from the fact that we can see across not only different acquisition agencies but different domains. So, we have people that are contributing in the air domain with an F-35 or in the radar domain with AEGIS or in missile systems with things like the Prism Missile System. And we're able to see what are the capabilities that those might be able to offer and then look across the space domain not only at the- at the Space Force but at Space Development Agency, at the Missile Defense Agency, at others and understand where the opportunities are to stitch together various things. And we feel like it's our responsibility then to provide that kind of insight back.
[00:22:06] Natalya: You're talking about a mix of human, machine and artificial intelligence capabilities that have never been, as you said, stitched together before in the history of humankind. What makes you think this will all work?
[00:22:18] Eric Brown: I think part of it's blind faith and the creativity of our engineers, the fact that there have been many, many hard problems that we as a community and certainly we as a company have been tasked to solve in the past and we've never back down from those. I think that the biggest impediment that we're likely to face is if we, as a community, face this as a fragmented or fractured approach. If I look in the past at real watershed moments, in the 1950s and 1960s at the emergence of Apollo, in the 1930s and '40s at the Manhattan Project. It was really about bringing together the full brain trust of the country to solve some of the biggest problems that were out there because we recognized as a community, as a country and as a coalition that we were at a moment in time that required everyone to come together. And I think that this is one of those moments.
[00:23:16] So, when you start thinking about battle space management, command control, communications and you know BMC cubed and you think about the need to inject AI human interfaces as well as direct connectivity out to weapon systems, I think this is one of those watershed moments where the conflict, the competition is happening globally today and it's gonna take everyone coming together to solve those things 'cause it's not an easy problem but I think it's one that collectively if we come together we can solve.
[00:23:49] Natalya: Our capabilities right now, our connectivity capabilities are expanding exponentially and we are learning a lot from what our- what we've already done. Can you tell me a little bit about 5G, what we're learning about that and how it will impact civilian and military life?
[00:24:03] Eric Brown: In the realm of communications so often times we see in the terrestrial domains the capabilities and the technologies will start fielding years or even decades in advanced of the space domain just because of the- some of the challenges there logistically. And Lockheed Martin has seen the benefits that we've- that have emerged from the telecommunications industry around 5G and has certainly launched as we talked about in the last year or two, launched this construct around 5G.MIL. This idea that across domains that we can harvest a lot of the technologies, a lot of the approaches, the protocols of 5G and bring them directly to the war fighter. And the same is true for the space domain and it's contributions there. So, as we think about this idea of a space data transport tapestry, what are the key characteristics you would want to see?
[00:25:01] Well, one, certainly you would want to see low latency. If you're concerned about tracking hypersonic missiles or things like that you don't have any margin for error when it comes to the amount of time that would pass. Well, 5G has been solving for that latency challenge in many of the approaches that have been taken there. And then the second piece is you'd want to know that you've got direct machine to machine types of capabilities. And certainly as we look in the terrestrial domain increasingly there's the promise of autonomous vehicles and this idea that they're speaking to one another because that connectivity link is so strong. The third piece then is that high throughput. The ability to transmit large amounts of data over an extended period or extended distance and we're seeing that really brought into the domain as well.
[00:25:50] So, very different sets of requirements, very different sets of capabilities. So, in the last you know handful of months we've announced our partnership with Verizon looking towards what Verizon can do in the telecommunications environment and bringing it together with our 5G.MIL construct and you can see a lot of promise for what that would bring into the space domain. It's really about adapting those technologies, adapting those capabilities and ensuring that the war fighter has that same set of expectations and capabilities coming from the space domain as they enjoy coming from the terrestrial domain today.
[00:26:21] Natalya: Let's talk a little bit about cislunar bases. Let's talk a little bit about every capability you've mentioned including 5G, how does that enable us to protect our interests up on the moon and even further up on Mars?
[00:26:35] Eric Brown: So people are right now hypothesizing about what the, I'll just generally say, strategic interest is gonna be with the Moon or with Mars. I mean there's- the piece that's just the inherent desire to explore and to reach out and to reach new places. And certainly Lockheed Martin has been at the forefront of all of those missions over the past you know 70 years. And now the question is, how do we start really capitalizing on that beyond the interest and exploration in thinking about what role the Moon and other places will have on the future of life on earth or the future of the species.
[00:27:16] One concept that people have tossed out very frequently is about resources. The idea that there's gonna be a greater degree of, a greater concentration of resources that are as of yet untapped on the moon. And that holds a lot of promise. Another that there could be you know knew opportunities to look out further into the stars and things like that for observatories and whatnot. But in either of those cases it becomes a question of being able to have ready supply chains, ready lines back and forth to the Moon and unfortunately throughout history anytime we see the new place that we want to build out to invest in, they're always going to be bad actors.
[00:27:56] If we look back to the 1600s and 1700s with North America becoming so prominent, it opened the door for incredible amounts of piracy. And I think that we're gonna see very much the same thing unfortunately as we look into the future. If the Moon becomes a great source for resources or production, some sort of industry and that there needs to be the transfer of resources back and forth between Earth and the Moon, they're are going to be people that try to take advantage of that from both the state actor standpoint and from a piracy standpoint. And increasingly I know that the Space Force and the leadership of our country and of our partners are thinking about how they can protect those lines, how we can develop the capabilities to ensure the continuity of commercial services that we can have open lanes of communication and commerce as that develops in the future. It holds tremendous value and tremendous excitement. But it's those places that you have to protect to ensure that it's always available and that if bad actors are going to emerge, which they will, that we're prepared for those things.
[00:29:04] Natalya: And that's 21st century security, right? You've painted a picture of space that is, in many ways, home to tremendous military tension but you've also painted a picture of space that has capabilities to connect humans better than ever before and provide resources back to earth that will help earth. What keeps you optimistic about this picture understanding how much you know about the military challenges?
[00:29:27] Eric Brown: So, at various points in history there's been this theory that's been called the Revolution of Military Affairs, RMA. And there have been talks about you know back to the point where the wheel was first developed for military purposes and up through the ideas of the steam engine and of course we get to the nuclear age and we get to the computer age and you have these multiple points of major change, these watershed events that see true revolution. And I think when we talk about that 21st century security we see one of those revolutions in military affairs, we see that opportunity for greater connectivity and bringing in that multi domain environment that we've never really been able to fully flesh out in the past.
[00:30:12] From an optimist's standpoint I think that it really offers us a couple of things. One is it allows us to create in a cross-domain environment a deterrent effect that will enable stability. If we look historically a lot of times some of the greatest points of innovation were initially engineered and architected in the military domain. If we think about some of the capabilities around rocketry or around space capabilities themselves, around communications, around surveillance and reconnaissance, contributing to things like Google Maps today. It started off in the military domain. We are seeing a flow of commercial capabilities and thoughts going into the military domain. I think that this new age of 21st century security has the opportunity to also pull along a whole new set of capabilities and new technologies in the commercial domain that will really create the excitement and provide the inspiration to the next generations as they think about what space can do for them and what a world with space as an integral part of their everyday lives really means.
[00:31:24] Natalya: We started this whole conversation talking about high ground and now we're focused on what this military knowledge can do for humankind on earth and in space. My last question for you is, do we even know what the highest high ground is yet? With all the capabilities we're developing for human space exploration, and we talk about Mars. Is it possible it could go further than that?
[00:31:46] Eric Brown: So when we talk about high ground we're talking about the point from which one party can exercise an advantage because of their location or their position relative to another. And certainly as we look towards higher orbitologies there are opportunities to take advantage of that. I don't know what the ultimate high ground may finally be- it may not be- locational at all. As we think about the further evolution and investments that Lockheed Martin is making in things like quantum. It may not be locational, it may be that the high ground is closer to home than ever but really looking at new sets of technologies that fundamentally change the way that we think about the world and that we think about warfare.
[00:32:35] The key I think will be as we press into the future and we think about whatever the ultimate high ground really is. It really is about ensuring that we maintain the stability, we maintain the relationships on a global scale in order to maintain that peaceful use that we can deter bad actors from trying to take advantage of new high grounds and instead can continue to drive towards the kind of prosperity that we've enjoyed certainly since the second world war around the world and to exercise that freedom of commerce and freedom of action that we all enjoy every day.
[00:33:16] Natalya: Been speaking today with Eric Brown about keeping space connected, protected. Thank you for joining this episode of Space Makers, Eric.
[00:33:23] Eric Brown: Thank you, Natalia.
[00:33:32] Natalya: As we head deeper into the 21st Century, Lockheed Martin is creating and deploying technologies which protect space and ensure a stable future for all humanity. In our next episode, we discuss some of the threats of the future and what Lockheed Martin is doing to keep us secure.
[00:33:51] Host: You've been listening to Eric Brown who is a space maker. Whether you're a software engineer, systems, engineer, finance, or HR professional, we need space makers like you to make the seemingly impossible missions a reality. Please visit this episode’s show notes to learn more about what you just heard in this episode or the careers available at Lockheed Martin. If you enjoyed this show, please like and subscribe so others can find us and follow along for more out of this world stories. To learn more about our missions, products and people, follow our new Twitter handle @LMSpace and visit lockheedmartin.com/space. Join us on the next episode as we introduce you to more space makers.
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