The US Space Force established the new National Space Intelligence Center (NSIC) last June 24 to provide new and quality intelligence about space and help lawmakers craft new policies as technology continues to develop beyond the Earth’s atmosphere.

NSIC’s predecessor, The National Air and Space Intelligence Center (NASIC), will keep its name and be retained. It will also retain responsibility for conducting space analysis.

New NSIC Deputy Director John Gass earlier announced the center’s establishment date and said that he will be directly serving under NSIC Director Colonel Marqus Randall.

“It has been a long time coming but after two decades of trials and tribulations, June 24th will see the activation of Space Delta 18, the National Space Intelligence Center,” Gass stated.

“I am honored to serve along with Col Marqus Randall as the Deputy Director. Oddly enough, my first year of government service was 35 years ago–the same year the last Service Intelligence Center was activated (MCIA). We have rented out the Nutter Center so that we can share this historic event with our Guardians, their families and friends, our partners in government, industry, and academia and our communities that support us every day. Semper Supra!”

Exceptional Military Leadership for More Focused Space Program

Last December 2020, Chief of Space Operations Gen. Jay Raymond tapped Space Force’s Head of Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR), Major General Leah Lauderback, to create the new intelligence center. Lauderback explained the existence of two intelligence centers through the NSIC’s stand-up ceremony.

“It begs the question, I think, as to why did we need to stand up a National Space Intelligence Center? And the truth is that we needed a sharper focus on the space threat that is there today,” she explained, adding that the new NSIC will be a definite boost and bolster in terms of intel analysis. Lauderback will also be the ISR’s Air Force Deputy Chief of Staff following the successful stand-up ceremony.

Adding to the explanation of the rationale behind the creation of the NSIC, Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines also took the floor to emphasize the NSIC’s importance. According to her, the NSIC is a vital center amid growing threats from Russia and China, both of which have independent space programs. The launch also coincides with Russia and China’s renewed diplomatic ties as they found themselves with a similar enemy amidst the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

“Make no mistake, space is a warfighting domain today, and an ever increasingly contested one at that,” Haines said.

As was said by Gass in his LinkedIn post, Space Delta 18 has been activated for the NSIC, which means that it is the Space Force’s second Delta that is ISR-focused with its tasks. It is reportedly made up of 345 military and civilian personnel and primarily two units, the 1st Space Analysis Squadron Mission and the 2nd Space Analysis Squadron Mission. It joins Space Delta 7, a team based in Peterson Space Force Base, Colorado, while Delta 18 will be functioning out of Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio.

According to Haines, the opening of the NSIC is a “critical moment” in the new era of space development, where the opportunities for the US are “extraordinary.” It will also help the US’ communications infrastructure to protect Earth, the US’s national security, and the US’s capacity to garner intelligence.

On her first full day as DNI, Director Haines introduced herself to the ODNI workforce during a virtual town hall meeting, 2021 (Office of the Director of National Intelligence, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons).
On her first full day as DNI, Director Haines introduced herself to the ODNI workforce during a virtual town hall meeting in 2021 (Office of the Director of National Intelligence, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons).

Back to Earth

The US is the top donor and financial backer of Ukraine during the now four-month-old war. However, Russia and China have since shared a mutual understanding of their shared interests back on Earth. Russia’s interests in annexing as much of Ukraine’s territory and China’s interests in the South China Sea, as well as their reunification with Taiwan, are significant issues that provide context to their “no holds barred” alliance. This renewed confidence in one another may also result in the cooperation of their two countries concerning their space programs.

“I cannot stress enough how important Space Force intelligence is to our national security. And the establishment of this service intelligence center is a critical step to shape the future of the Space Force, improve acquisitions, and drive innovation across the community,” Haines said. She emphasized the role of the new NSIC to spearhead the analysis for the new frontier – space and a lot of space missions to come in the years.

The new intel center will be tasked to track and identify kinetic and non-kinetic space threats near Earth’s axis. Specifically, Chief of Space Operations John W. “Jay” Raymond stated in 2020 that the NSIC will be founded as there is a need for the Space Force to grow its “space intelligence at the foundational, operational, tactical, and strategic levels.”