COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo.—The Pentagon’s chief technology officer has begun a new effort to work more closely with the commercial space sector to better and more quickly leverage the rapid innovation being churned out by companies.

The new effort within the under secretary of defense for research and engineering will by led by Lindsay Millard, the principal director for space within the office, Heidi Shyu said on Tuesday at the Space Symposium here.

Millard’s goal will be to “incorporate the incredible innovation ecosystem of the commercial space economy and link them into our joint warfighting concepts to access and accelerate capability adoption,” Shyu told attendees.

Shyu gave high praise to the commercial space sector for its risk taking and its exploits in recent years in rapidly developing new capabilities.

“Commercial investments in the space domain have completely changed the paradigm for the Department of Defense,” she told attendees. “Commercial space companies move at the speed of technology innovation.”

Shyu said the burgeoning commercial space sector and the data it is generating is an “undeniable force multiplier,” and that her office wants the “early and often adoption” of commercial capabilities across multiple areas including intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR), rapid launch into space, satellite communications, space situational awareness, and other potential areas.

The Defense Department is already taking advantage of commercial satellite remote sensing capabilities for various ISR applications, and is also leveraging private sector developments in space domain awareness, space communications, and rapid access to space. Ahead of Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, the U.S. intelligence community took advantage commercial satellite imagery, all of which is unclassified, to show the buildup of Russian military forces for the attack.

Millard has been the principal director for space since September 2020 and is responsible for leading the department’s research and engineering efforts to maintain the competitive advantage in the space domain.

“We will actively work to understand how commercial companies assess risks and adopt new technologies, break down government-commercial barriers, how to rapidly transition commercial capabilities to be available to the U.S. government and allies and partners,” she said, adding that commercial capabilities will complement what DoD provides.

The DoD is developing innovative capabilities for space but needs to “rapidly demonstrate the capability and accelerate their deployment,” Shyu said.

The widespread deployment of DoD and commercial satellites gives the U.S. resilience in “an increasingly contested environment,” she said.