NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg revealed early this week that Ramstein Air Base in Germany’s Rhineland-Palatinate will likely be the location of the intergovernmental military alliance’s space center, according to the German Press Agency (DPA) and Süddeutsche Zeitung.
Toulouse, France, and Kalkar, in Germany’s North Rhine-Westphalia - the municipality which is home to the Joint Air Power Competence Center - were reportedly discussed as potential locations.
Stoltenberg believes an official announcement will occur by October 22.
“This will be a focal point for ensuring space support to NATO operations, sharing information and coordinating our activities,” an unnamed NATO official told Stars and Stripes on Monday.
NATO countries account for around half of the more than 2,000 satellites in orbit.
The forthcoming construction will be carried out in affiliation with NATO's Allied Air Command and serve as a major milestone for the alliance following the 2019 adoption of its “space policy.”
“The information gathered and delivered through space-based satellites is critical for NATO activities, operations and missions, including collective defence, crisis response, counter-terrorism and disaster relief,” the NATO website details.
The alliance also pledges to “remain fully in line with international law.”
“NATO has no intention to put weapons in space,” the site notes. “The Alliance will maintain situational awareness of space as well as reliable access to space services, which are required to ensure the success of its operations, missions and activities.”
NATO’s space-related efforts come shortly after the December 2019 founding of the US Space Force (USSF) under US President Donald Trump. Moscow and Beijing have decried Washington’s aggressive approach to the great beyond, and many view the service’s cretion as a deliberate misinterpretation of the 1967 Outer Space Treaty.
However, Acting Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Dr. James H. Anderson claimed in February that the US is simply building a defense and responding to the sophisticated on-orbit capabilities of Russia and China.
Anderson argued in the news release that the USSF will be rooted in "transforming its space enterprise, fielding resilient architectures, developing space warfighting expertise and working closely with allies in combined operations.”
“We can no longer assume that our space superiority is a given. ... If deterrence fails, we must be ready to fight for space superiority,” USSF Gen. John W. "Jay" Raymond expressed in the Pentagon release, appearing to echo an August 29, 2019, statement issued by the US president.
“When it comes to defending America, it is not enough to merely have an American presence in space. We must have American dominance in space,” Trump said in the White House memo.