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Coast Guard partners with Space Force to strengthen presence in space domain


Capt. Dan Keane, commanding officer of the Coast Guard Research and Development Center (left), and Dr. Joel Mozer, director of science, technology and research for the U.S. Space Force, share a handshake following the Jan. 19, 2023, signing of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to enhance space-related capabilities for the joint warfighter. This MOU aims to develop a partnership that focuses on coordination, collaboration and transparency to enhance capabilities and technologies. U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Stuart Bright.

The Coast Guard Research and Development Center (RDC) and the U.S. Space Force (USSF) Science, Technology and Research Directorate solidified their commitment to collaborate and enhance space capabilities for the joint warfighter through a new memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed Jan. 19.

This significant occasion marks the first time the two organizations have worked together and the beginning of a partnership focused on coordination, sharing and exchange of information as well as identifying opportunities for applied research and advanced technology development.

Capt. Daniel Keane, RDC commanding officer, and Dr. Joel Mozer, USSF science, technology and research director, signed the MOU.

Mozer underscored the importance of the partnership. “The Coast Guard is more than 230 years old and the Space Force just three,” he said. “The nation’s newest service has a lot to learn from one of its oldest on how to provide national power and security in a burgeoning new domain full of new economic and geostrategic opportunity, but also representing unknown threats.”

The missions of the Coast Guard and Space Force are intertwined and have many goals that could be achieved more effectively and yield greater impact with coordinated planning. This MOU will enable and improve the Space Force’s access to unique RDC facilities, infrastructure and personnel to support their mission to protect the space interests of the U.S. and its allies by optimizing the development and transition of future space capabilities to the joint force.

“We are excited for the opportunity to partner with Space Force in potential future research, as well as share researchers and best practices,” Keane said. “We quickly realized the value that this relationship presented for both agencies soon after the Space Force participated in a Coast Guard strategic study that examined the Coast Guard’s future role in space governance, use of spaced-based technology and research areas.”

The partnership will benefit the Coast Guard by increasing synergy between the two commands as both investigate space-based technology that can help the Coast Guard enhance maritime domain awareness (MDA). MDA is especially important for search and rescue, law enforcement, dark fleet/vessel detection and tracking, ice operations, pollution monitoring, cooperative vessel tracking and remote communications.

Due to the high dynamics of space and its rapidly evolving domain, the demand for space-based capabilities is significantly increasing, and the U.S. national security community is pursuing collaborative approaches to maintain its technological edge and strong foothold in space.

The Coast Guard has research activities adept at identifying, developing and operating emerging technologies to benefit national space-related capabilities, including space missions and operations. Through this MOU the organizations aim to develop a partnership that focuses on collaboration and transparency to enhance capabilities and technologies and to share best practices.

“The Coast Guard is a forward-leaning organization with an eye to the future,” Mozer said. “The Space Force wants to take advantage of their methods of strategic foresight and apply them to our own space problems; where technology developments overlap between the two services, we want to partner.”

For more information: Research, Development, Test & Evaluation and Innovation Program page and Research and Development Center page