Living Reference Work Entry

Handbook of Satellite Applications

pp 1-15

Date: Latest Version

Future of Military Satellite Systems

  • Joseph N. PeltonAffiliated withExecutive Board, International Association for the Advancement of Space Safety Email author 


The use of space systems to support military activities and enhance defense-related capabilities has increased exponentially since their first application in 1965 with the Initial Defense Satellite Communications System. Although the first major application was for communications services, space-based defense capabilities have now expanded to provide a wide range of other types of services. Today these applications include navigation, targeting, mapping, remote sensing, surveillance and meteorological tracking, and prediction. In short, 50 years of expanded space-based capabilities for military and defense-related services seem destined to be followed by 50 years of even greater capabilities. Thus, there will be expanded competence in terms of new types of space hardware and new applications. Further, entirely new capabilities will be added. These will likely include expanded use of artificial intelligence and increased focus on cybersecurity and space situational awareness, on-orbit servicing, and perhaps even active orbital debris removal.

This chapter examines all of these trends and discusses whether some of these trends will relate to improved commercial satellite capabilities, particularly in the context of dual use of commercial networks and hosted payload systems.


Artificial intelligence Cybersecurity Dual use Fiber optic satellite ring Global Information Grid (GIG) Global Positioning System (GPS) Hyperspectral Imaging Internetworking Internet of Things Intersatellite Links (ISLs) Laser Light Communications Meteorological Satellites NATO Orbital space debris Satellite Services to the Edge Space Situational Awareness Transformational Satellite System