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10 9 2023

NCI Agency celebrates World Space Week

World Space Week is observed every year between 4 and 10 October. It is the largest annual space event worldwide and it is an occasion to educate and inspire the public about space activities, garner support for various space programmes and build international cooperation in space outreach.

Space is a dynamic and rapidly evolving area, essential to the Alliance's deterrence and defence. NATO has been active in space since the 1960s, using satellites for communications, navigation and intelligence. In 2019, further steps were taken and Allies adopted NATO's Space Policy, recognizing space as a new operational domain, alongside air, land, maritime and cyberspace.

Identifying space as a domain is crucial not only to increase deterrence and resilience, but also for unicity of capabilities, services, regulations, effectiveness and efficiency of operations, and reducing the resources needed to achieve the desired end-state and the risks to personnel. Space data and services are also essential for effective NATO operations, from peacekeeping, disaster relief, counter-terrorism, to collective defence.

NCI Agency celebrates World Space Week

The NATO Communications and Information Agency (NCI Agency) is heavily involved in all NATO matters related to space. As NATO's premiere technology and capability deliverer, the Agency continues to play a significant role in enabling space technology and delivering satellite communications to NATO missions and operations.

Over 160 NCI Agency experts support space for the Alliance. The newly formed Space Technology Adoption and Resilience division, or STAR, leverages the power of new sensors, constellations and automation technologies, and integrates them with NATO's existing technologies and processes.

The Agency leverages innovative technology and collaborative partnerships with industry, operating seven satellite ground stations and a SATCOM centre to enable seamless and secure communication channels for command centres and deployed forces across the Alliance.

Moreover, the NCI Agency, Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE) and NATO Headquarters are leading the Alliance Persistent Surveillance from Space (APSS) under the management of the Agency. APSS was initially launched with the funding support of Luxembourg and has the joining intent of 18 other NATO Nations. The aim is to enhance NATO's situational awareness and decision-making, through the establishment of a virtual constellation and the integration of timely, persistent and relevant data and services from space. This will significantly improve NATO's intelligence and surveillance capabilities, and provide essential support to missions and operations.

The NCI Agency also supports a number of space related activities, including satellite communications (SATCOM), intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR), positioning, navigation and timing (PNT) and meteorology and oceanography (METOC).

The NCI Agency has a long lasting history with SATCOM, which NATO has been using since the 1960s. As a crucial provider and a centrepiece of coordination of this capability, it focuses on guaranteeing the provision of SATCOM services to all NATO Nations for a number of applications and increasing the resilience of SATCOM services, counter jamming and operations in degraded environments.

In the context of ISR, the NCI Agency is responsible for managing, delivering and creating a substantial amount of services that NATO and Allies use. ISR sees a significant number of activities related to the use of new and emerging technologies. The Agency looks at the use of more advanced space based sensors and as well as the application of artificial intelligence, and combining data from different sources.