IDA Space Capabilities and Expertise

Policy Analysis and Strategy

IDA staffs an interdisciplinary team who provides responsive, high-quality analyses of national and international science and technology issues important to U.S. policymakers. The team has contributed in fields such as norms of behavior, space sustainability (including orbital debris mitigation, characterization, and remediation); in-space servicing, assembly, manufacturing; cislunar space; microgravity; space domain awareness; space weather; small satellites; and space commercialization and legal/policy/regulatory challenges. This expertise can inform policymakers on the best options to advance U.S. strategic goals in space and help policymakers propose laws and establish operating norms in space to best advance the nation’s interests.

Science and Technology Assessments

IDA research staff possesses scientists and engineers from a wide range of technical backgrounds, which enables us to understand and assess cutting-edge developments in national security and civil science and technology. This includes everything from propulsion and orbital trajectory optimization, orbital debris and ASAT modeling, satellite power and thermal management, sensors, advanced materials, and more. Space assets have also revolutionized our understanding of the climate crisis, and IDA staff members include atmospheric and climate scientists who can help understand the ramifications of climate change.

System and Capability Evaluations

IDA has developed internal tools to evaluate a wide range of systems and capabilities, including C5ISR (command, control, communication, computing, cyber, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance), missile early warning and tracking, satellite networking, environmental monitoring, PNT (position, navigation, and timing), and resilient space architectures, in the presence of threats ranging from cybersecurity to electronic warfare to orbital debris. As capabilities continue to grow, parsing the enormous amount of data generated becomes increasingly challenging. IDA researchers are on the cutting edge of artificial intelligence/machine learning (AI/ML) and other data science methods to synthesize these data streams into actionable results. This includes, but not limited to, supporting test and evaluation of most DoD space systems.

Resource and Support Analyses

Space is not just the domain of complex systems, but also the human capital (researchers, operators, and warfighters) that interact with these systems. Human capital is a crucial asset for which IDA has dedicated analysts for detailed organizational and human capital strategies, cost assessments, and workforce management solutions. IDA has experts on education and outreach, to assist in attracting talent and investing in the next generation of STEM leaders. Additionally, has experience evaluating the effectiveness and suitability human-machine interfaces to see if they are easy to use and help people do their job well.

Force and Strategy Assessments Evaluations

As the space domain becomes increasingly ‘congested, competitive, and contested,’ the optimal deployment of space capabilities is critical. IDA has experience and expertise in spacecraft survivability, electronic warfare, satellite constellation design, and space domain awareness (SDA) to improve resiliency and understand space as an operational domain. IDA has demonstrated experience in net assessments and wargaming to anticipate future developments, and can cut across multiple agencies to best inform the joint force strategies as well as informing strategic efforts on deterrence. Additionally, IDA international and intelligence experts can analyze primary sources in other languages, factor in cultural differences, and combine that information with sensitive intelligence information to forge detailed understandings of foreign capabilities and intentions.

Space Economy and Commercial Markets

Commercial space is growing at an unprecedented rate, pushing innovation forward and enabling the promise of military- and civil-commercial ‘hybrid’ architectures. IDA can analyze the technical merits and commercial viability of these innovations. IDA staff members can speak directly with government and industry leaders, all as an independent, objective advisor to deliver unbiased results.

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