“The Expanding Nexus between Space and Defence”, Alessandro Marrone and Michele Nones (IAI, Italy)

The strategic character of space has been recognised worldwide already during the Cold War. Space and defence have continued to benefit from each other’s breakthroughs and know-how and this nexus has been constantly expanding in different ways. Space was born competitive, and has evolved to become an increasingly contested and congested environment. Moreover, satellites have become a critical infrastructure for the societies and economies on Earth. Space is the ultimate frontier for political, technological and industrial competition, with new scenarios regarding space operations led by dedicated military commands. US, China and Russia pursue competitive advantages in the space higher ground, exploiting also innovative digital technologies and dual-use approaches. NATO officially recognised space as operational domain, while the armed forces of US and major European allies are undertaking policy and organisational adjustments. The EU space programme has achieved significant results on Copernicus and Galileo, the former being particularly relevant for the armed forces’ navigation through its Public Regulated Service. Italy is a pillar of the European space framework, the second country in Europe for number of assets in orbit, the third largest contributor to European Space Agency and the home of a complete space value chain. Rome has recently introduced a new space governance, and upgraded the Minister of Defence structures dealing with space: a policy planning office and a space operations command. Building on a solid multi-layered base, Italy can enhance its role in space.

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