Artificial intelligence will have at least several uses for the U.S. Space Force and U.S. Space Command in the future, particularly around domain awareness, autonomy, and command and control, USSPACECOM Deputy Commander Lt. Gen. John Shaw said on Tuesday.

The volume of space in the “Earth-Moon system” is a “daunting” task to monitor and is beyond even a “big data problem,” Shaw said during a discussion at the Space Innovation Summit hosted by the think tank America’s Future Series.

“We need to use every possible form of data available to us, whether that’s supplied by our government systems or by our commercial partners, or allied partners or others, to bring that all together to fuse that and understand what is happening in our domain,” he said. “And then apply some predictive analytics to give an idea of what’s going to happen in the near future and we can be ready for that.”

AI and machine learning will also be needed to help large numbers of small, space platforms operate autonomously, Shaw said.

As these platforms move further from Earth, humans will not be able to control them in real-time, so “We’re going to need them to be really, really smart platforms to do their jobs well,” he said.

The vastness of space and numbers of systems operating in the domain also create a “larger military command and control problem and challenge” different from any domains on Earth, he said.

“When we look and see how we would execute that, we’re going to need what AI can bring to bear to be effective given that challenge,” Shaw said.

America’s “adversaries and competitors” are also working to leverage AI on similar challenges, which is “All the more reason why we need to embrace it, understand it and use it as effectively as quickly as we can to ensure that we stay ahead,” he said.