President Trump’s “Space Force” proposal would help prevent the U.S. energy grid from going dark in an emergency or an attack, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said in an exclusive interview with the Washington Examiner.
Bridenstine argued that a disruption of America’s satellite assets would pose an “existential threat” to the grid, meaning that a Space Force is needed more than ever.
He compared the threat to those facing the banking system today. Both Wall Street and the electricity sector are dependent on the same Global Positioning System, or GPS, signals from space to operate, he explained.
“Every banking transaction requires a timing signal from GPS,” he says. “In other words, if there is no GPS, there is no banking in the United States. Everything shuts down.”
“It becomes an existential threat,” Bridenstine added.
Likewise, the situation would be similar for the electric grid, if a foreign adversary targeted U.S. assets in space, he said.
“Electricity flows on the power grid are regulated by a GPS timing signal as well,” said Bridenstine.
The Commerce Department explains that GPS is being used more than ever to time transactions and run systems more efficiently. Utilities and power companies have employed GPS to pinpoint disruptions and make the grid more reliable.
Experts say knocking out GPS, or having an enemy broadcast a phony GPS signal, would mean grid operators would be blind to their operations, resulting in an out-of-sync system and potential calamity.
“We are dependent as a nation … on space to the point where our potential adversaries have called it the ‘American Achilles heel,’” noted Bridenstine.
The Trump administration called for the creation of the force by 2020, citing threats from Russia and China.
U.S. adversaries are “developing capabilities to deny us access to space … to wreck those capabilities in space,” said Bridenstine. “And if they do, they could bring this country to its knees.”
Bridenstine said that NASA supports the Space Force proposal wholeheartedly, though NASA will not have a direct role in implementing it.
His support is based on the absolute “dependency the United States has on space,” he said.
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