U.K. Secretary of State for Defence, SMC leaders discuss the future of U.K.-U.S. Partnerships in Space

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  • By Space and Missile Systems Center Public Affairs

Leadership from the Space and Missile Systems Center and subject matter experts from the SMC Chief Partnership Office (CPO) hosted the United Kingdom’s Secretary of State for Defence, the Right Honourable Ben Wallace MP, and members of the U.K. delegation July 15 to discuss organizational wins, recent partnership successes, future collaborative efforts and international partnerships across the space domain. 

Lt. Gen. John F. Thompson, SMC commander and program executive officer for Space, conceptualized the CPO to direct led discussions regarding ways in which the CPO can connect allies and potential partners across the commercial and interagency sectors who are interested in collaborative opportunities and global space cooperation with the U.S. Space Force.

 “One of the main initiatives for the U.S. Space Force and our CPO is having a unity of effort,” said Lt. Gen. John F. Thompson, SMC commander. “As our Chief of Space Operations, Gen. John Raymond says, ‘We need to all be rowing in the same direction.’ At SMC, we aim to continue to build on these joint endeavors and innovate together as Space evolves exponentially, both in the civilian commercial and government sectors.”

Allies and partners offer critical capabilities that can be integrated into our space architecture, identify and close gaps in space enterprise, and strengthen combined space capabilities

“I have been assigned here since October 2018 and my main role is to identify, establish and enhance partnerships between the U.K. Ministry of Defence and SMC,” said Wing Cdr. Ian Pamplin, U.K. liaison officer to SMC.  "This visit highlights the importance of the U.K.'s relationship with the United States, the value we place on international partnerships, and our desire to continue to work with SMC to develop opportunities for future collaboration in space systems development."

During the visit, Wallace and the U.K. delegation were immersed in the critical space mission of SMC and the U.S. Space Force.

“The U.S. and the U.K. have collaborated together in multiple capability areas and initiatives,” said Thompson. “From the International Space Pitch Day (ISPD) held last November to efforts across satellite communication, Space Domain Awareness, and Space Command and Control - we have had some big wins, and I’m confident we have many more to come.”

ISPD was a collaborative effort led by the U.K. Defense and Security Accelerator, the U.K. Defense Science and Technology Laboratory Space Program, and SMC on behalf of the U.S. Department of Defense and the U.K. Ministry of Defense.

“ISPD demonstrated how we ‘go-faster’ together and collectively seek and find the best global space technology,” said Deanna Ryals, SMC chief partnership officer. “We have also learned our approach to partnerships is different today than it was 10 years ago.  As our allies begin to field sovereign space capabilities and build national industrial bases, we have transitioned our thinking from, ‘Come invest in our programs and we’ll share capability’ to, ‘Bring your capabilities to our coalition architecture, and we’ll all share in capabilities.’”

Cooperation with allies and partners provides opportunities to bolster combined space capabilities by decreasing cost, increasing speed of innovation and expanding interoperability.

“We are shifting to a mindset of ‘Allied By Design’ as we look at how we acquire future space systems to build out a robust and resilient space architecture,” Ryals continued. “We know our commercial partners are moving at the speed of innovation and by working together through endeavors like our joint ISPD, both nations were able to develop a common set of requirements then seek the most cutting-edge technology from all across the globe.”