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Security

The issue of security is today more central to policy and decision-making than at any time since the Cuban Missile Crisis. September 11th, 2001 was a reminder that North Americans could be attacked at home, and that thousands could die at the hands of small, well-organized, well-financed, worldwide terrorist cells. It has crystallized America as a twenty-first century Pearl Harbor, with consequential impacts on our ability to travel and trade openly. From the initial use of space and high-altitude aircraft images during the Cuban missile crisis to graphic views during recent environmental disasters, satellite-based earth observation has played and will continue to play a central role in security.

Once restricted to the traditional geo-political aspects of national sovereignty, resolution of conflicts and protection of national assets, security has broader meaning, and involves close cooperation between public and private sectors. The advent of the European Space Agency/European Union joint program Global Monitoring for the Environment and Security is indicative of a focal shift. Security now provides a common thread for international cooperation that affects many phases of our daily lives and must be considered in a much wider context that includes economic, agricultural and environmental security, and scientific and research components. Global security is greatly threatened - by wide scale pollution of our oceans and waterways, by the depletion of our natural resources and conversion of agricultural lands, and by the retreating habitats of our domestic wildlife, again on unprecedented scales.

Space and security issues may be considered under many aspects: intelligence and threat assessment, sovereignty, environmental security, personal and societal security and disaster management on the national level; multilateral treaty enforcement, international relief efforts, foreign policy and international collaborative research on an international scale. In addressing questions of national and international security, a wide range of space solutions are available. Some of these are purely military, while others leverage civil and commercial capability to meet security objectives. In fact, space based assets inherently possess a wide range of dual use applications, but for which civil and defence requirements may be quite different.

It is clear from a review of applications that space has a meaningful role to play in all of these areas, and that space and security will remain intimately linked in the coming years.

Some recent mandates involving the application of space technology to security questions included: