On Monday, National Defence signed a memorandum of understanding with Australia, the United States and the United Kingdom that will see the four countries share space-related information and resources.

Known as the Combined Space Operations Initiative, the MOU formalizes an existing partnership among the four defence departments and will encourage closer cooperation on a range of activities such as identifying and understanding space objects, ensuring uninterrupted satellite operations, and avoiding satellite collisions.

“Partnering with our Defence allies on combined space operations makes sense,” said BGen Michel Lalumière, Director General Space within the Chief of Force Development office. “The information shared will help us in areas of mutual interest, including Space Situational Awareness, planning for space events, and collaborating on space capabilities to maintain the strategic advantage that space provides.”

The Canadian Armed Forces, which relies on space-based capability for everything from command and control to weather information, navigation, communications, mapping, and search and rescue, has invested in a number of space programs in recent years and projects significantly more investment over the next 5-20 years in its Defence Acquisition Guide, published this summer.

According to a DND press release, recent CAF space projects that have benefited from international cooperation include:

  • Sapphire: Canada’s first dedicated operational military satellite, Sapphire detects manmade objects in orbit, and transmits data to the U.S.-led Space Surveillance Catalogue dedicated to preventing satellite collisions.
  • Wideband Global SATCOM: Led by the U. S., this program provides guaranteed, secure access to high-capacity frequencies for government communications. As costs are shared among seven partner nations, this program allows the CAF to economically meet its need for strategic satellite communications.
  • Protected Military SATCOM project: This program will provide near-worldwide, secure, survivable, and jam-resistant communications for high-priority military ground, sea and air assets. Program goals will be achieved through participation in the U.S.-led Advanced Extremely High Frequency satellite system.
  • Multi-National Experiments: This is a concept development and experimentation project jointly undertaken every two years by the defence and security research communities of 17 countries. In the most recent experimental series, CAF officers led the development of an international concept for risk mitigation in space.

“The partnership announced today will help the Canadian Armed Forces to continue improving its use of space capabilities and protecting our critical space assets,” said LGen Guy Thibault, Vice-Chief of the Defence Staff. “Just as we work closely with our allies on land, sea, and in the air, so too should we combine our operations in space.”