Principal Deputy Director of National Intelligence Stacey Dixon (USGIF staff)

GEOINT 2024 — As of this year, the Space Force can vote on issues brought before the Intelligence Community’s Commercial Space Council, according to a top IC official — a status change that should give the service a bit more clout in the ongoing debate about acquisition of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) data from commercial satellite operators.

“This year, the US Space Force will join … the IC Commercial Space Council as a voting member of this Council, which serves as an IC forum for collaboration and provides a focal point for industry engagement that has continued its successful efforts to integrate and coordinate policies, strategies and approvals across the government [regarding] the commercial space industry,” said Stacey Dixon, Biden administration deputy director of national intelligence, today.

The Space Force joined the cross-agency council when it officially became the 18th member of the IC in 2021.

The IC Commercial Space Council was established by the DNI in 2020, and is now chaired by John Huth, chief of the Defense Intelligence Agency’s office of space and counterspace. The council has been in the thick of the years-long debate about how the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) and the newcomer Space Force will divide responsibility for determining requirements for commercial imagery; buying imagery and analytical products; and disseminating that data and information.

Speaking to the annual US Geospatial Intelligence Foundation’s GEOINT conference in Kissimmee, Fla., Dixon explained that this is just the latest move in the IC’s expanding efforts to engage with, and benefit from, the boom in commercial remote sensing and space-related open source intelligence gathering.

She noted, for example, that the DNI in 2023 created a Commercial Space Strategy Board that she chairs, which “reviews commercial requirements and publishes unclassified documents that outline intelligence and defense needs for commercial data and analytics.

“And we will continue to look for more ways to be better partners. We need your engagement and we’re taking steps to improve our engagement with you,” she told the audience, made up primarily of industry representatives.