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By Airman 1st Class Cody Friend
/ Published May 17, 2023
Department of the Air Force members pose for a group photo with Japan Air Self-Defense Force service members in Tokyo, Japan, April 12, 2023. Space Delta 2 and Space Systems Command visited JASDF members to collaborate and discuss further partnership in Space Domain Awareness. (Courtesy photo illustration)
U.S. Space Force Col. Marc Brock, Space Delta 2 commander, and a group of DEL 2 Guardian operators visited the Japan Air Self-Defense Force’s Space Operations center in Tokyo, Japan on April 12, 2023, to learn about their operations, collaborate, and build partnerships for the future of the Space Domain Awareness mission.
“We need to build and enrich our partnerships to better accomplish our mission, deter adversaries and assure mutual defense,” said Brock. “In particular, we are excited to continue our collaboration with the JASDF as we aim to improve our space domain awareness capabilities in the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command area of responsibility.”
According to Capt. Mikaela Hicks, DEL 2 command and control deputy division chief, our partners at JASDF are transitioning their Space Situational Awareness mission to Space Domain Awareness and are open and receptive to DEL 2’s lessons learned for how to make that transition successfully.
“It was eye opening to see how they’ve prioritized the increasing demand for Space Domain Awareness,” said Hicks. “They understand the space environment is evolving and are actively preparing for emerging threats.”
Hicks said the amount of objects in space is increasing dramatically, which increases the military risk and the need for Space Domain Awareness in order to protect and defend the U.S. and its allies from attack in, from, and to space.
“We're trying to be more proactive rather than reactive,” said Hicks. “We’re now focusing more on characterization – What is the space object doing? What are its capabilities? What can we expect it to do in the future, and how do we plan for that?
“We’re using operational intelligence to better understand what will happen on orbit,” added Hicks.
Capt. Dustin Pessatore, 18th Space Defense Squadron officer in charge of space domain awareness engagements, took part in the trip and engaged with the Japanese space operators.
“The trip was an extraordinary experience,” said Pessatore. “Working alongside our talented international partners and observing their inventive strategies in space operations was genuinely compelling. Additionally, the professionalism, kindness, and courtesy displayed by the Japanese left a lasting impression.”
Space Systems Command also took part in this trip to develop a technical solution to enable more secure and efficient data sharing between the U.S. and Japan.
“A part of the way-forward involves finetuning the process for data sharing for both entities,” said Hicks. “Every step SSC is taking to simplifying brings us one step closer and drives the focus on advancing shared SDA capabilities in the area.”
As part of the Japanese Quasi-Zenith Satellite System, two separate Japanese spacecraft are scheduled to launch in fiscal year 2024. Each spacecraft will host a payload to be operated by DEL 2 in support of the Space Domain Awareness mission through the United States’ partnership with JASDF.