The Ripple Effects of a Military Space Skirmish

Article by Ramin Skibba and Undark                                July 12, 2020                              (theatlantic.com)

• On April 22, with the successful launch of a military reconnaissance satellite, Iran joined a growing list of nations having weapons and military systems in orbit. In April, Russia tested a missile program designed to destroy satellites, and in March 2019, India launched an anti-satellite weapon. Many more countries now have space programs, including Iran, North Korea, France, Japan, and Israel.

• Two think-tanks, e.g.: the Secure World Foundation in Broomfield, Colorado, and the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C., both released reports this year (see SWF report here; see CSIS report here) pointing to an increase in countries deploying satellite-destroying weaponry and disruptive technologies that could put all peaceful activities in space at risk. Many of these technologies could ratchet up an arms race or spark an actual skirmish in space.

• “What worries us in the international community is that there aren’t necessarily any guardrails for how people are going to start interfering with others’ space systems,” said Daniel Porras, a space security fellow at the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research in Geneva.

• Thousands of satellites already circle low-Earth orbit (below an altitude of 1,200 miles) to provide key services such as internet access, GPS signals, long-distance communications, and weather information. More than half of those satellites are from the U.S., and most of the rest are from China and Russia. Any missile that smashes into a satellite would disperse thousands of bits of debris. “If you create debris, it might just as well come back and hit one of your own satellites,” says David Burbach, a national security affairs expert at the U.S. Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island. “So I think we’re pretty unlikely to see countries actually use those capabilities.”

• When China conducted an anti-satellite missile test in 2007, it created a massive cloud of space junk that drew international condemnation. India’s engineers tried to limit debris from their recent test by conducting it at a low altitude, so that Earth’s gravity would pull the pieces down and they would burn up on descent. But some pieces were flung up to the International Space Station’s orbit. There were no collisions; as of February, only 15 trackable pieces of debris remained in orbit.

• A number of countries are developing new military technologies for space. France is working on laser beams that could dazzle another country’s satellite, preventing it from taking pictures of classified targets. North Korea is studying how to jam radio frequency signals sent to or from a satellite. And Iran is devising cyberattacks that could interfere with satellite systems. Meanwhile, the big three space heavyweights – the U.S., Russia, and China – are already capable of all three approaches, according to the SWF report.

• The big three have also begun to develop satellites that can be used as surveillance devices or weapons. A satellite could maneuver within miles of a rival’s classified satellite, snap photos of equipment and transmit the pictures down to Earth. Or the satellite could sidle up to another and spray its counterpart’s lenses or cover its solar panels, cutting off power and rendering it useless. Russia may be ahead with this technology. Last fall, Space Force General John “Jay” Raymond accused Russia of deploying a satellite near a U.S. spy satellite, which he called a “potentially threatening behavior.”

• The SWF report notes that an incident or misunderstanding could escalate tensions if it’s perceived as an attack. With the new Space Force, the U.S. Defense Department seeks to “strengthen deterrence” and improve capabilities to “defend our vital assets in space,” says Space Force spokesperson Christina Hoggatt. The U.S. military will focus on making satellites more resilient to attack, however, rather than developing offensive weapons, said Hoggatt.

• Tense regional relationships could be particularly unpredictable. For example, if North Korean leaders found themselves in a standoff with South Korea and the U.S., they might launch and detonate a nuclear weapon in space where the radiation would disable most satellites. The U.N. and other international groups – including SWF and the Outer Space Institute, a global research organization based in British Columbia – are working to avoid such scenarios.

• Existing international laws offer little guidance. While the Partial Nuclear Test Ban Treaty of 1963 and the Outer Space Treaty of 1967 prohibit weapons of mass destruction in space, they don’t explicitly limit other kinds of space weapons, tests, or military space forces. So until non-interference rules involving space weaponry are hammered out, unexpected satellite tests will inevitably fuel speculation and paranoia.

 

On April 22, after several failed attempts, Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps announced a successful launch of what it described as a military reconnaissance satellite. That satellite joined a growing list of weapons and military systems in orbit, including those from Russia (which in April tested a missile program designed to destroy satellites) and India (which launched an anti-satellite weapon in March 2019).

Experts like Brian Weeden, director of program planning at the Secure World Foundation (SWF), a nonpartisan think tank based in Broomfield, Colorado, worry that these developments—all confirmed by the newly rebranded United States Space Force—threaten to lift earthly conflicts to new heights and put all space activities, peaceful and military alike, at risk. Researchers at SWF and at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), a nonpartisan think tank in Washington, D.C., both released reports this year on the rapidly evolving state of affairs. The reports suggest that the biggest players in space have upgraded their military abilities, including satellite-destroying weapons and technologies that disrupt spacecraft, by, for instance, blocking data collection or transmission.

Many of these technologies, if deployed, could ratchet up an arms race and even spark a skirmish in space, the SWF and CSIS researchers caution. Blowing up a single satellite scatters debris throughout the atmosphere, said Weeden, co-editor of the SWF report. Such an explosion could hurl projectiles in the paths of other spacecraft and threaten the accessibility of space for everyone.

“Those are absolutely the two best reports to be looking at to get a sense of what’s going on in the space community,” said David Burbach, a national security affairs expert at the U.S. Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island, who was not involved in the new research.

Today, Burbach added, the world is very different compared with the Cold War era, when access to space was essentially limited to the United States and the Soviet Union. Many more countries now have space programs, including India, Iran, North Korea, France, Japan, and Israel.

Despite this expansion—and the array of new space weapons—relevant policies and regulatory bodies have remained stagnant. “What worries us in the international community is that there aren’t necessarily any guardrails for how people are going to start interfering with others’ space systems,” said Daniel Porras, a space security fellow at the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research in Geneva. “There are no rules of engagement.”

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Retired RAF Pilot’s Close Encounters With UFOs – One Shaped Like the Michelin Man

Article by Stephen Moyes                                    July 12, 2020                                  (thesun.co.uk)

• Retired RAF pilot Brian Burdett, 83, who flew a Prime Minister, VIPs and the public around the world in a 47-year career, has revealed his own close encounter with a UFO shaped like ‘Michelin Man’.

• In 1970, Burdett was flying a Royal Air Force VC10 at 35,000ft, in a southerly route, 25 miles north of the island of Corsica off of western Italy, when he, his co-pilot, navigator and flight engineer all saw a shiny ‘oil drum’ shaped object hovering motionless in the sky. “All four of us on the flight deck saw exactly what I saw, obviously, and agreed with my description,” said Burdett.

• Speaking for the first time about the sighting, Burdett said, “Imagine a 56 gallon oil drum, the ones that come up to your hip and have those little bulges at regular intervals; imagine Michelin Man. …[I]t was suspended in our 11 o’clock position and above us.” “We concluded it could have been a mile or several (miles away) depending on its size, whatever that was. We lost sight of it when we could crane our heads no higher.” “It was motionless relative to us.”

• Burdett reported the incident to Nice, France Air Traffic Control. Two fighter jets were scrambled to intercept the UFO but the pilots saw nothing on radar. However, a Pan-Am jetliner “reported that he could see exactly what I saw and agreed with me.”

• “It was so unnatural and out of the ordinary and beyond our normal expectations of what things are or appear to be. You had to see it to not believe it,” says Burdett. “There is no doubt in my mind” that it was extraterrestrial or something not developed on this planet.

• But as a pilot, Burdett was no stranger to encountering strange objects in the sky. In 1951, Burdett noticed a light in the sky in the distance which shot off at warp speed. In 1957, while being briefed at RAF Trimingham with some visiting pilots from Belgium, alarms sounded when radar picked up a ’white return’ on the screen. It shot in a northerly direction from Holland at a massive speed and then stopped dead, then shot out again at massive speed toward northern England. “We were immediately ushered out.”

• There have been over 3,500 documented sightings of UFOs by military, civilian and commercial airline pilots, but researchers believe many more pilots are reluctant to report them officially for fear of ridicule or damage to their careers.

• Burdett has written about his close encounters in his book, Forty-Seven Years Aloft. He says, “I’ve never believed pilots are reluctant to report strange sightings. …[T]hey would always report them, in my opinion.” Burdett’s final flight was into Los Angeles in an Airbus 340, in December 2000, having 22,500 hours in his log book.

 

           Brian Burdett

A retired RAF pilot who flew a Prime Minister, VIPs and the public around the world in a 47-year career has revealed

          ‘Michelin Man’

his own close encounter with a UFO shaped like ‘Michelin Man’.

Brian Burdett, 83, was flying a Royal Air Force VC10 at 35,000ft when the strange ‘oil drum’ shaped object appeared 25 miles north of Corsica.

He was en-route from RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus to RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire and was carrying RAF service personnel and their families to and from Singapore. They were daily flights.

Brian, who was acting Squadron Leader, was left baffled by the object which looked like a bright shiny oil drum.

Speaking for the first time about the sighting, he said: “Imagine a 56 gallon oil drum, the ones that come up to your hip and have those little bulges at regular intervals; imagine Michelin Man.

“Imagine also that it was not black or dirty but shining bright with an immense glare. It was suspended in our 11 o’clock position and above us.

“In real terms, had it been the real thing its apparent size put it 20 feet away but the inability to sense its relative distance was eerie because we could not work it out.

“We concluded it could have been a mile or several depending on its size, whatever that was. We lost sight of it when we could crane our heads no higher.

“It was impossible to focus on it in any normal way. The impression was that it could have been any size and at any distance. As I said, it was eerie.It was motionless relative to us.”

He reported the incident to Nice ATC and two fighter jets were scrambled to intercept the UFO but the pilots saw nothing on radar.

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The Mystery of An Alien Abduction Still Captures the Imagination

Article by Joanna Jasinska                               July 11, 2020                                 (thefirstnews.com)

• On May 10, 1978, 71-year-old Jan Wolski was driving a horse-drawn carriage home to his farm in the small village of Emilcin in southwest Poland. Suddenly, two small beings with olive skin, webbed hands and slanting eyes appeared next to him and, speaking in a language Wolski didn’t recognise, led him to a small clearing where a white UFO craft, about half the size of a bus, was hovering five metres above the ground.

• Wolski told a pair of journalists shortly after the incident that at this point, “I tied my horse, then got off and went after [the beings] toward that machine. There was a tiny elevator of some kind… [O]ne of [the beings] went up and put his foot inside this craft. I followed him and was rapidly carried up to the entrance of the craft.” “They indicated that I had to undress,” Wolski continued. “Well, when I was partially undressed (above my waist) but then I received an order to undress completely. So I took off my shoes.”

• “One of the beings then appeared in front of me with an appliance in the form of two dishes combined in its hand,” said Wolski. “[The being] held ‘the saucers’ to my front, then turned me around holding my arm slightly. Then he raised my arm up and began to do something at my side with those plates… then from behind and on the other side. Then he indicated that I should get dressed, and as I did this I looked around but there were neither windows nor lights visible.” Wolski was politely let go.

• This is the account that Wolski told friends and family. When word got around and people went to the site of the abduction, they found strange footprints all over the clearing. The flying saucer was nowhere to be found. But a local boy, Adam Popiołek, also saw the alien craft and alerted his mother about a falling plane.

• Shortly after the event, different family members started to fall ill. One of Wolski’s sons, Edward, died in mysterious circumstances three years later – his body was found in a nearby forest. Today, the Wolski farm is abandoned.

• Researchers and journalists have tried to unravel the mystery of Emilcin. Krzysztof Drozd, the author of Emilcin 197 – In Search of Truth, and publicist Bartosz Rdułtowski re-examined all the research documentation and suggested that the case could have been a hoax. There were some inconsistencies in the first investigation, and a tendency to look for confirmation rather than evidence.

• Today, a UFO memorial stands in Emilcin, featuring a cube balanced on a plinth, to commemorate the alien abduction. It still attracts tourists and extraterrestrial enthusiasts. A time capsule is buried next to the monument to be opened in 3011.

 

      drawing of one of the alien beings

Tucked away in the quiet village of Emilcin in south-eastern Poland is a unique memorial. Featuring a

                             Jan Wolski

cube balanced on a plinth it commemorates an alleged alien abduction that whisked a local farmer away in a UFO.

Just what happened on May 10, 1978 to 71-year-old Jan Wolski is still a source of intense debate about whether or not it was a close encounter of the third kind.

On that day Wolski was on his way home, driving a horse-drawn carriage. All of a sudden, two small beings with olive skin, webbed hands and slanting eyes apparently appeared next to him and led him to a small clearing, where a UFO was waiting.

 drawing of the the alien craft

Speaking in a language the farmer didn’t recognise, the creatures took him to a white craft which was about half the size of a bus and happened to hovering five metres above the ground. Once inside he was examined by the strange visitors.

Two journalists, Krystyna Adamska and Henryk Pomorski, spoke to Wolski shortly after the extraordinary event. “I tied my horse, then got off and went after them [the beings] toward that machine,” the farmer said in the interview. “There was a tiny elevator of some kind for two people to hold – maybe it couldn’t carry two large people but it surely could slight people… And then one of them went up and put his foot inside this craft. I followed him and was rapidly carried up to the entrance of the craft.

“They indicated that I had to undress,” he continued. “Well, when I was partially undressed (above my waist) but then I received an order to undress completely. So I took off my shoes. One of the beings then appeared in front of me with an appliance in the form of two dishes combined in its hand.

“He held ‘the saucers’ to my front, then turned me around holding my arm slightly. Then he raised my arm up and began to do something at my side with those plates… then from behind and on the other side. Then he indicated that I should get dressed, and as I did this I looked around but there were neither windows nor lights visible.”

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