As an international space crowd descended on The Broadmoor for the 35th Space Symposium, there was big news for Colorado Springs: The city is now home to the space industry’s first information sharing and analysis center.
The Business Journal reported April 11 that the new nonprofit Space ISAC, unveiled that afternoon during a classified session at the symposium, will be based at the National Cybersecurity Center.
NCC CEO Vance Brown said Space ISAC, which was created to protect space assets and close information sharing gaps within the cybersecurity and space communities, could potentially be “the most important organization in the world.”
Brown said most of the nation’s defense-related infrastructure — in fact, most of humanity — relies on GPS, making space assets critically important. Cyber attack is the greatest threat to those assets, he said, “so there needs to be a close association between cybersecurity and space assets — and this is in recognition of that fact.”
Kratos Defense & Security Solutions is Space ISAC’s first founding member, providing initial funding and support. For founding members of Space ISAC, the NCC is providing the initial training (the first training on secure GPS will launch in May) as well as the information sharing and analysis portal.
NCC leaders expect Space ISAC to burnish Colorado Springs’ reputation as a tech, cyber and space hub.
“To me, it’s a stake in the ground,” Brown said, adding that Colorado Springs will become more recognized nationally and internationally for its importance in the space community.
NCC COO Jonathan Steenland said ISACs offer “collaboration and near-real-time threat intelligence sharing between public and private organizations — giving them access to information and intelligence that they typically would not have in their siloed organizations.”
“It’s the perfect location.”
— Vance Brown
Standing up the information sharing analysis portal will involve a large infusion of funding into the NCC and will have “a very large impact on the local economy,” Brown said, while Steenland predicted “a positive economic and workforce impact in Colorado Springs, Colorado and our nation as a whole.”
Brown said Colorado Springs is the ideal location for Space ISAC, given the Department of Defense presence throughout the city, Space Command at Peterson AFB and Space Foundation Headquarters on the city’s west side.
“[I]t’s the perfect location. From our perspective, it’s the only right location — given not just the history, but the infrastructure that’s already in place,” he said.
Brown isn’t alone in seeing the Springs as a critical center for the space industry. Lockheed Martin is looking to expand its workforce locally, with several immediate openings for skilled engineers to join its iSpace team.
“As [iSpace] begins to become more a commercial product — more than just servicing the United States government — we see the need for more engineers, capable programmers, astrodynamicists, those types of skill sets here in the Springs area,” said Scott Norr, director of Lockheed’s Operational Command and Control in the Springs.
Over the past year the iSpace team has worked with potential international customers to develop a licensing model for iSpace. The Commonwealth of Australia became a customer a year ago, and now other U.S. allies are interested in purchasing licenses for iSpace.
The iSpace system provides situational awareness of what’s going on in space by correlating data from a global network of government, commercial and scientific community space surveillance sensors into a recognized space picture. Processing data from over 400 traditional and non-traditional radar and optical sensors, iSpace’s unique capability is being able to customize output for the user.
“We can fully optimize the global set of hundreds of sensors, and make sure that we’re getting the right priorities met,” said Jeff Chadwick, engineering program manager for iSpace.
“Not only did we develop this product to meet these specific needs,” said Darin Hightchew, senior program manager for iSpace, “we’ve also taken great efforts to make sure that this product ties in to the new government focus on multi-domain operations.”
Raytheon, which performs software sustainment for NORAD at Peterson AFB and Cheyenne Mountain, also continues to expand its presence in the Colorado Springs.
“We’re really excited about the region,” said Todd Probert, vice president for Raytheon Intelligence, Information and Services. “It has a great customer base, great employee base, cost of living, … [we have a] great relationship with the city. The small business relationships we have there, they’re probably the strongest amongst my portfolio.”
For the Air Force, Raytheon just completed work modernizing and simplifying SPADOC — the Space Defense Operations Center — a 1990s-era system based at Peterson AFB that tracks and monitors roughly 170 million man-made objects in space.
With SPADOC’s hardware becoming “dangerously obsolete” and its upgraded replacement several years away, Probert said, a fast and reliable solution was needed.
Raytheon rose to the challenge, coming up with a way to emulate SPADOC’s original computing environment with modern computer hardware. The result is a smaller, more sustainable system that provides the same functionality and needs less maintenance.
See more action from the 35th Space Symposium: