Space

What Is UK Space Command?

The new unit will be staffed by British Army, Royal Navy and Royal Air Force personnel, alongside members of the civil service.

UK Space Command has officially launched.

Formed in April, it forms part of the Government's plan to increase Britian's ambitions in the domain of space.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced in November a £16.5bn increase in defence spending over the next four years, with a particular focus on cyber and space.

The latter is considered a "warfighting" domain by the US, which in 2019 established a dedicated 'Space Force' for the American military.

Here is everything we know about UK Space Command.

What will it do?

UK Space Command is tasked with overseeing operations, training and capability in space, the joint command is to be led by a former RAF pilot and will work with international allies.

Its members include British personnel from across the tri-services, plus others from the US Space Force.

When fully operational, UK Space Command will take control of RAF Fylingdales, strategic military satellites known as SKYNET and the UK Space Operations Centre (UK SpOC).

RAF Fylingdales in North Yorkshire offers early-warning capability to the US and UK against surprise missile attacks, while UK SpOC protects British assets in orbit.

Announcing the boost in defence investment in 2020, Mr Johnson described a more joined-up approach for a future military, and Space Command will be responsible for ensuring new capabilities can work smoothly with those in separate domains.

The Prime Minister also spoke of launching British satellites and the UK's first rocket from Scotland in 2022.

Watch: How would NATO respond to a space attack?

Why does it exist?

In March, an expert told Forces News that strategies in space are now moving closer to the "disruption and denial" of assets rather than their "destruction”.

Alexandra Stickings, Research Fellow for Space Policy and Security at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), explained why many may fear Russian and Chinese activity in space despite research and exploration interests mutual to all humankind.

The UK believes the threat from adversaries in space is already present and rapidly evolving - last month, NATO even agreed to respond to threats from space.

To remain competitive is a new domain and protect assets vital to on-the-ground operations, the Government believes the launch of Space Command is a crucial step in the right direction.

Who is behind it?

Space Command will be a Joint Command based from headquarters at RAF High Wycombe and staffed by personnel from all three services of the UK military, as well as representatives from the civil service and the commercial sector.

Long-term location plans are currently being discussed by the Ministry of Defence.

The Commander of UK Space Command is Air Vice-Marshal Paul Godfrey.

He joined the RAF in 1991 and has been a fighter pilot most of his career, in addition to RAF Lossiemouth Station Commander.

Space Command and the Space Directorate, responsible for space policy and coordination, will work closely with Strategic Command to ensure they can deliver modern capabilities.

Direction from the National Space Council will reach UK Space Command through the Space Directorate. The UK Space Agency will also work with the command when required.

New technology and capability integration will see UK Space Command maintain links to the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl).

Cover image: UK Space Command badge (Picture: UK Space Command/Twitter).