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Activity title

Opportunities/Implications of Large Scale Commercial Small Satellite Constellations to NATO Operations

Activity Reference



Systems Concepts and Integration

Security Classification



Awaiting Publication

Activity type


Start date


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Communications, Constellations, Internet, ISR, New Space, Responsive Space, Satellites, Small Satellites


The dependence upon space by both NATO and its potential adversaries, which is well documented, drives an enduring requirement to continuously identify, assess and incorporate new innovative space capabilities into NATO missions. Equally important is the assessment of the threats and other implications of such new innovative space capabilities becoming available and incorporated into adversarial military capabilities. The global appetite for the collection, processing and distribution of large amounts of data and information for national and international commerce, sovereign defence as well as organized criminal and terrorist applications continues to evolve and grow at high rates. This increased market demand has stimulated the commercial sector investment in new space architectures and associated products and services. Such products and services are now and will continue to become more broadly available on a global basis. NATO must understand both the opportunities and implications of these new space services in the context of supporting the Alliance as well as these same services supporting forces inimical to NATO objectives and operations.


The objective of this workshop is to provide an opportunity to promote a shared awareness of the opportunities and implications of emergent large scale, emergent commercial satellite constellations and the services that they are anticipated to provide. The scientific and technical objectives are to identify specific aspects of commercially provided spacecraft systems and their services, their vulnerabilities to space hazards, risks and threats, interoperability and command and control requirements that need further assessment, study or experimentation. A secondary objective is to identify from the sense of the workshop participants the critical assessment gaps that must be addressed to meet NATO operational and acquisition planners’ requirements.


The following topics will be addressed in this workshop: - Evolution of small satellite performance and cost metrics - Small satellites for ISR services and products - Small satellites for communication services - Space traffic control - National policies and regulations affecting development and delivery of mega-constellation services - Small satellites for position, navigation and timing services - Small satellites for space surveillance services and products - Technology gaps and other constraints (e.g. availability of launch) that affect the success and rate of development of large scale commercial small satellite constellations - Technology gaps and other constraints that affect the success and rate of NATO adoption of large scale commercial small satellite constellations services - Global access to large constellations of small satellites - Command and control opportunities and constraints for large constellations of small satellites - Vulnerabilities of commercial space systems and services as well as commercial approaches to threat mitigation

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