Space has become an essential component of every nation’s defense strategy, interacting with and enhancing operations in every domain. Space-based assets provide critical intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities. Satellites equipped with advanced sensors enable real-time monitoring of potential threats, including missile launches, troop movements, and suspicious activities and facilitate global command and control of military forces, ensuring rapid deployment and coordination. Timely and accurate information enhances situational awareness, enabling effective decision-making and swift responses to emerging threats.
Space-based communication systems are also indispensable for secure and reliable military communications. Satellites facilitate secure data transmission, enabling seamless and encrypted communication across vast distances between military units. While space-based navigation and positioning systems, such as GPS, are fundamental to modern military operations, and all movement in the air and sea domains. Accurate and reliable positioning data from satellites allows for precise targeting, navigation, and synchronization of forces.
Additionally, space assets are essential for early warning systems, detecting and tracking ballistic missile launches and other potential attacks. By providing critical information about incoming threats, space-based sensors enable timely responses, including missile defense systems and countermeasures.
Elizabeth Seward, Head of Space Strategy and Future Business, BAE Systems, noted: "We are seeing a really strong growth in the importance of space in national security. It is now known as the fifth warfighting domain. Space commands exist in many countries worldwide, reflecting the global nature of space. The satellites that we put up orbit the whole world. It gives us a viewpoint that you cannot get from any other platform or any other domain, so countries are looking at how can they use that to their best benefit."
Beyond defense applications, space has become an environmental gamechanger offering insights into climate change, geographical changes, and potential green solutions, such as space-based solar power.
However, the rapid development of space technology brings challenges, as it is a largely unregulated domain.
Discussion forums and events, such as World Defense Show 2026 in February, offer opportunities for international collaboration and cooperation. The dedicated Defense Space Arena at this year’s event offers not only a showcase for the technology changing this essential domain, but also a dedicated Content Theatre hosting informed discussion and debate across nations, to tackle potential challenges to peaceful development.
Dr Manjit Pope, WDS Space Advisor, emphasized the importance of topics debated at the World Defense Show regarding AI's role in the future of space defense. She said, "Shared challenges require collective solutions. International cooperation is essential, as space defense challenges, such as debris management and cybersecurity, are global in nature. Collaborative efforts allow nations to collectively find solutions to these complex issues. Collaboration also fosters transparency and trust among nations, reducing the risk of misunderstandings and conflict in space. It promotes peaceful coexistence and responsible space governance."
There are also cost implications, as independent space programs and technology are prohibitively expensive for many nations. Dr Pope said: "Collaboration is the root to cost-effective innovation. Pooling resources and expertise through cooperation reduces the financial burden of developing space defense capabilities. It accelerates technological progress and ensures more nations can contribute."
Heidi Grant, President Business Development at Boeing, defined the concept: "Space is the ultimate high ground. It provides nations with communications, research, and defensive capabilities. The International Space Station is the perfect example of global cooperation in space, operating for over 22 consecutive years with humans aboard, fostering unique orbital research."
Dr Pope continued: "Events like the World Defense Show are instrumental in propelling the global space defense landscape forward. They create a vibrant nexus where diverse voices converge to shape the future of our field. The World Defense Show is an ideal hub for fostering collaborations between commercial and military sectors, and its Defense Space Arena amplifies this synergy. Attendees will gain global insights and networks in the intersection of commercial and military interests, forging alliances that leverage diverse strengths to drive innovation and progress."
In the not-so-distant future, the synergy of AI and the metaverse will be the linchpin of global space defense capabilities. The Metaverse Intelligence, an alliance of augmented minds, AI-driven decision matrices, and real-time simulations, will outpace conventional strategies. To stay ahead in this cosmic chess game, the World Defense Show will be the arena where nations come together to master the new dimensions of space defense.
The show's focus on showcasing innovations amplifies their transformative work, inspiring attendees to engage with the forefront of technological evolution. By spotlighting KSA's initiatives, the show also creates a dynamic ecosystem that attracts startups and established players alike. Attendees can explore cutting-edge advancements, collaborate on impactful projects, and contribute to the growth of the global space defense landscape," she added.
Andrew Pearcey, CEO World Defense Show, said, "World Defense Show 2026 will be instrumental in propelling the global space defense landscape forward, both through innovative technology and in international governance. Our Defense Space Arena creates an environment where diverse views can be shared and discussed, by subject matter experts and senior government representatives. It is an ideal hub for fostering collaboration between commercial and military sectors, and potentially forging alliances that will drive innovation and progress."
"During the event, leaders from space commissions, governments, NGOs, and the defense industry will address the most important issues concerning space defense, such as governance challenges, cross-disciplinary space missions, interoperability, and the ongoing need for collaboration. We believe that WDS’s role as an enabler of global collaboration will extend beyond the event itself, providing a platform for countries to engage in international cooperation across all domains," he added.