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International Space Reference Architecture (ISRA) – Linking Policy to Capacity Building

Author: Nathaniel Dailey

Editor’s Note: Mr. Dailey’s article is based on his doctoral thesis work which posits that it is possible to build reference architectures that are applicable to public administration and policy formulation and demonstrates how to reduce uncertainty in the context of conflict in space.

The ISRA is an architecture framework that takes a big (the biggest) picture by bringing together policy formulation and analysis methodologies INTO the architecture framework itself. It digitizes policy, allowing us to craft descriptive metadata in software and then link it to technologies and systems. By doing so we can better focus efforts on promoting good behavior for sustainability goals [1]. It is literally a constructivist mechanism for connecting to the international regime that:

  • Couples the policy world (e.g. treaties, conventions, and guidelines) with real capacity building mechanisms
  • Digitizes Space-related policy connecting it with architectural artifacts for vocabulary, standards, specifications, and systems
  • Promotes cooperation among nations of the world in space innovation exploration and use by:
    • Providing low-cost, low-level-of-effort “crowdsourcing” traditional Space Situational Awareness (SSA) and Space Traffic Management (STM)
    • Providing transparency, accountability, and automated discovery of anomalous behavior relative to digitized “Smart-Treaties” (e.g. autonomous treaty compliance)
  • Reduces uncertainty for conflict in the future use of space by mitigating misperceptions of intent

The ISRA comprised of three fundamental components (see figure) as described below and provides for guidance and standards that describe the established and emergent state of the art in space related missions and business. Rapidly evolving technology changes outpace policy. Required services, standards, agreements, security models, communication protocols, web services, etc. are specifications and standards of procedures that may be described such that other components of this framework are connected and stay current.

This image depicts the relationship of the elements of the ISRA

ISRA Framework

  1. Technology Innovation as a mechanism to share common standards, best practices, tactics techniques and procedures (TTPs) in space operations to all stakeholders.
  2. Shared Vocabulary, continuously informing data dictionaries for continuous flow of new information; choreographing policy with definitions as they become available from civil, commercial, international sectors; coupling rapidly advancing concepts with policy updates.
  3. Space Policy: the keystone for the principles, technical, and vocabulary-based artifacts in the ISRA framework; better informed by architecture to incentivize desired behavioral norms.

Related to ISRA is the Blockchain Enabled Space Traffic Awareness (BESTA) which reconciles national and other space observation feeds and provides the ability to compare the observation feeds with prior agreements [2]. It is separate but important to mention because in the context of ISRA as a framework, we may codify international space related treaties vis-a-vis blockchain smart contracts, or in this case, “Smart-Treaties” essentially digitized treaties [3].

What makes space smart-treaties particularly attractive is that on the one hand, BESTA validates with immutability space objects as an SSA and STM support system, and on the other hand ISRA’s connection with BESTA allows for comparing SSA/STM in space with codified smart-treaties and, in a sense, creates a system for the automated discovery of anomalous behavior and smart-treaty compliance in international affairs because the desired Behavior has been digitized and coupled in the architecture.

This socio-technological international space reference architecture can serve as a mechanism to converge the interests of global space faring and space using states alike into an international regime for cooperation. It is intended to not only build capacity for Sustainable Development Goals (SDG)  and Long Term Sustainability (LTS) Guidelines for Space  but ultimately also reduce future uncertainty for conflict in space by mitigating misperceptions of intent with transparency, accountability, and predictability. Together, ISRA (as an architecture) and BESTA (as a technology) encourages sustainable ethics and practices in orbit and on the ground making the world, AND SPACE, a safer place.

 

Bibliography

[1] Dailey, N. (2019). International Space Reference Architecture (ISRA): Linking Policy to Capacity Building. Briefing to the United Nations Office of Outer Space (UNOOSA) World Space Forum, UNHQ Vienna Austria, November 2019. The MITRE Corporation, McLean, Virginia. Approved for Public Release, #19-3252.

[2] Bryson, D., Dailey, N. Carden, B., and Reed, H. (2019). Blockchain Enabled Space Traffic Awareness (BESTA). Copyright © Advanced Maui Optical and Space Surveillance Technologies Conference (AMOS). Retrieved from https://amostech.com/TechnicalPapers/2019/Space-Situational-Awareness/Reed.pdf.

[3] Dailey, N. and Reed, H. (2020). Enabling GREAT (Global Resilient Extensible Automated Trusted) Capabilities. MITRE Innovation Program. The MITRE Corporation, McLean, Virginia.

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