US Space War Opens for Business in Germany!

October 23rd, 2020 - by Ed Adamczyk / United Press International & Sebastian Sprenger / Defense News

NATO Space Center to Be Built at Allied Air Command in Ramstein

Ed Adamczyk / United Press International

WASHINGTON (October 19, 2019) — NATO is expanding its defense alliance to space, and is expected to announce construction of a “space center” at Ramstein, Germany, this week.

The new facility will be affiliated with the NATO air command center at Ramstein, and will be used as a coordination point for surveillance in space, the German newspaper Suddeutsche Zeitung said on Monday.

The space center would serve as a hub for information about possible threats to any NATO member.

“This will be a focal point for ensuring space support to NATO operations, sharing information and coordinating our activities,” a NATO official told Stars and Stripes.

About half of the 2,000 satellites currently in earth orbit are owned by NATO members. The action follows a 2019 NATO decision declaring space as a separate area of operations while acknowledging that space is of crucial importance for early warning systems and communication and navigation information.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said in 2019 that NATO “has no intention of stationing weapons in space, but we have to ensure that our missions and operations have the appropriate support.”

An official announcement is expected after military chiefs from the 30 NATO member nations review the plan later this week during a virtual two-day meeting beginning on Thursday.

Ramstein Air Base to Host New NATO Space Center

Sebastian Sprenger / Defense News

COLOGNE, Germany (October 20, 2020) — NATO member defense ministers are expected to approve a plan this week to create a space center at the U.S. Air Force base in Ramstein, Germany, according to officials and local media reports.

The center’s creation, which is on the agenda for an Oct. 22 meeting of defense ministers, would come as space capabilities gain importance in the defense calculus of global powers. The United States, Russia and China have each heavily invested in space technology in recent years, though many of the activities are closely guarded secrets.

“We expect NATO defense ministers will agree on Thursday to create a new NATO space center at our air command in Ramstein,” an alliance official told Defense News. “This will be a focal point for ensuring space support to NATO operations, sharing information and coordinating our activities.”

The plans were first reported Monday by German press agency DPA and the daily Süddeutsche Zeitung.

Alliance members designated space as an operational domain at NATO’s 2019 London summit. Spacecraft are essential, but vulnerable, elements powering modern-day armed forces, carrying payloads for navigation, communications, surveillance and targeting.

“Satellite systems keep our world running in ways many people barely realize. Commerce, weather forecasts, mobile phones and banking all rely on satellites,” NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told German international broadcaster Deutsche Welle.

Still undecided, meanwhile, is the location of a center of excellence devoted to military space — a kind of NATO think tank on the subject — where analysts would study concepts and develop doctrine. France and Germany each have lobbied to host such an organization.

A group of German companies has urged the government to highlight the country’s space-technology capabilities in an effort to lure the center of excellence here.

One proposal, pitched by the Federation of German Industries trade association, envisions building a mobile launch platform in the middle of the North Sea that could eventually be used by the armed forces of Germany and NATO. Such a move would nurture an ecosystem of companies whose business model is based on small, low-cost space launches in the style of Elon Musk’s SpaceX, the group has argued.

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