Tag: space force

The National Space Intelligence Center Takes Shape

Article by Rachel S. Cohen                                     November 16, 2020                                    (airforcemag.com)

• As part of the Department of the Air Force’s review of which units should transfer to the Space Force, two pieces of the National Air and Space Intelligence Center at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base – the Space Analysis Squadron and Counter-Space Analysis Squadron – will be turned over to Space Force to form the basis of a new National Space Intelligence Center (NASIC).

• NASIC, whose roots date back to analysis of a Soviet space launch in the 1950s, is tasked with identifying air, space, missile, and cyber threats facing the Air Force and Space Force. Threats run the gamut from projectile attacks in space or anti-satellite missiles from the ground, to signal jamming and other electronic interference, to intelligence-gathering on US assets in the cosmos.

• “The need for space domain intelligence continues to increase in the face of changing missions and emerging threats,” Chief of Space Operations Gen. John W. “Jay” Raymond said in the Space Force’s planning guidance. “We will develop and expand shared strategies [with the Intelligence Community] … to detect and characterize threats, defeat attacks, and respond to aggression.”

• Former Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper raised questions about whether a space-focused center would unnecessarily duplicate work already underway at NASIC. “The National Space Intelligence Center will be an independent organization manned by highly trained space subject matter experts capable of providing quality intelligence support to space warfighters, senior leadership, and policymakers through independent and collaborative work with the National Air and Space Intelligence Center,” said Space Force spokesperson Col. Catie Hague.

• Still, it’s unclear when NASIC would come to fruition. “The Intelligence Community, through a deliberate analytical process, determined the need to establish the NASIC to provide dedicated foundational intelligence support to the USSF, senior leadership, and policy makers to increase unity of effort and effectiveness of space operations between the Department of Defense and the IC,” said Hague. “We need to think differently so we can drive things differently,” said NASIC boss Col. Maurizio D. Calabrese.

 

          Gen. John W. “Jay” Raymond

The Space Force is planning its first steps toward a new intelligence center to make the great unknown a little less mysterious.

Two pieces of the National Air and Space Intelligence Center at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, will form the basis of a new National Space Intelligence Center, Space Force spokesperson Col. Catie Hague said. Those units are the Space Analysis Squadron and Counter-Space Analysis Squadron.

The Space Force is taking custody of the two squadrons as part of the Department of the Air Force’s broad review of which units should join the new service. Air Force Magazine reported Nov. 10 that recent Space Force guidance included a plan for a National Space Intelligence Center.

     Col. Maurizio D. Calabrese

“Their designation for realignment into the Space Force is driven by their performing direct support to the space intelligence mission,” Hague said.

NASIC is tasked with offering the scientific and technical know-how to find and describe new air, space, missile,

                      Col. Catie Hague

and cyber threats facing the Air Force and Space Force. The services use that information to decide which technologies to pursue and tactics to adopt. Last year, the organization released an unclassified report, entitled “Competing in Space,” to discuss trends and challenges posed by foreign countries in that arena.

NASIC says its space roots date back to its analysis of a Soviet space launch in the 1950s. Now, some military space watchers argue a specialized NSIC would offer more comprehensive operational support to troops who need to know what challenges they face from global adversaries and objects on orbit.

Threats run the gamut from projectile attacks in space or anti-satellite missiles from the ground, to signal jamming and other electronic interference, to intelligence-gathering on U.S. assets in the cosmos.

“The need for space domain intelligence continues to increase in the face of changing missions and emerging threats,” Chief of Space Operations Gen. John W. “Jay” Raymond said in the Space Force’s planning guidance. “We will develop and expand shared strategies [with the Intelligence Community] … to detect and characterize threats, defeat attacks, and respond to aggression.”

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What a Joe Biden Presidency May Mean in Orbit and Beyond

Article by Ian Whittaker and Gareth Dorrian                                 November 11, 2020                                       (theconversation.com)

• Donald Trump set bold goals for space exploration during his time in office – from crewed missions to the Moon and Mars to a Space Force. Joe Biden has pledged to sign Executive Orders that will undo most of the Trump administration’s work – in the same way that Trump undid most of Obama’s work. But Biden has been relatively quiet on space policy. So how is space exploration likely to change going forward?

• During the Trump administration, NASA committed to the return of astronauts to the Moon in 2024 under the Artemis program. This builds on the Constellation program which was implemented by Republican president George W Bush in 2005 but was subsequently cancelled by Democratic president Barack Obama due to its high cost and difficulty.

• In a document released by the Democratic Party entitled “Building a Stronger, Fairer Economy”, the Democrats “support NASA’s work to return Americans to the Moon and go beyond to Mars, taking the next step in exploring our solar system.” Canada, the European Space Agency and Japan are all formal partners in the construction of the Lunar Gateway – a lunar orbiting outpost designed to support multiple expeditions to the Moon’s surface. It would be difficult for a Biden administration to unilaterally withdraw from the project.

• The Trump administration also pushed for a first crewed mission to Mars in the 2030s. An independent report by the Science and Technology Policy Institute in 2019 stated that a crewed Mars mission in the 2030s is currently unfeasible. It is unlikely Biden will try to resurrect this any time soon, especially since confronting the COVID-19 pandemic will likely drain discretionary funding.

• Viewing space as a potential war zone, the Trump administration formed Space Force. With a public approval rating of only 31%, Americans aren’t too impressed with the Space Force. But there are doubtlessly many difficulties of reintegrating Space Force back into the US Air Force. It is therefore likely that Space Force will remain in a Biden administration, possibly with reduced focus.

• US human spaceflight policy rarely survives a change in a Presidential administration. NASA’s chief, Jim Bridenstine, appointed by Trump, has already announced he is stepping down, saying that he wanted to let somebody with a “close relationship with the president” take over. Still, the success of the crewed SpaceX launch to the International Space Station means the commercial crew program is likely to keep running – taking the burden off NASA.

• Biden has made it clear that tackling climate emergency is a priority. While this is likely to be focused on industrial pollution limits and renewable energy sources, it does suggest that space policy could be more focused on Earth environmental observation satellite missions such as oil spills, deforestation and carbon emissions.

• Changes notwithstanding, many scientists will breath a sigh of relief at the prospect of not having to fight the kind of anti-science position that we have seen from Trump during his time in office.

 

Donald Trump set bold goals for space exploration during his time in office – from crewed missions to the Moon and Mars to a Space Force. By contrast, his successor Joe Biden has been relatively quiet on space policy. So how is space exploration likely to change going forward?

It is clear is that there will be change. NASA’s current chief, Jim Bridenstine, has already announced he is stepping down. And we know that US human spaceflight policy rarely survives a change in presidency.

That said, the amazing success of the crewed SpaceX launch to the International Space Station (ISS), however, means the commercial crew programme is likely to keep running – taking the burden off NASA. Indeed, the first operational flight of the Crew Dragon by commercial company SpaceX is due for launch on November 15, with four astronauts bound for the ISS.

During the Trump administration, NASA also committed to the return of astronauts to the Moon in 2024 under the Artemis program. This is due for its first test launch (uncrewed) next year with Artemis-1. This builds on the Constellation program which was implemented by Republican president George W Bush in 2005 but was subsequently cancelled by Democratic president Barack Obama due to its high cost and difficulty.

The only substantial clue as to the direction of a Biden presidency with regard to astronaut flights to the Moon can be found in a document by the Democratic Party entitled “Building a Stronger, Fairer Economy”. In one paragraph, the Democrats state that they “support NASA’s work to return Americans to the Moon and go beyond to Mars, taking the next step in exploring our solar system.”

No detail is offered on possible timelines. But, with international cooperation now a major feature of the Artemis program, it would be difficult for a fledgling Biden administration to unilaterally withdraw from the project. For example, Canada, the European Space Agency and Japan are all formal partners in the construction of the Lunar Gateway – a lunar orbiting outpost designed to support multiple expeditions to the surface.

The programme is also rapidly advancing research, particularly in terms of building materials, power supplies and food production. Just this week, the European Space Agency awarded a contract to the British company Metalysis to develop techniques to simultaneously extract oxygen and metals from lunar soil.

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A Conversation With US Secretary of the Air Force Barbara Barrett

Article by Steve Forbes                                      November 13, 2020                                 (forbes.com)

• Space is a far cry from the peaceful region it was when we landed a man on the Moon over 50 years ago. China and Russia have become aggressive and space has become a theater of power politics. In response, the US created the Space Force almost a year ago, the first new military branch since the creation of the Air Force in 1947. It was Air Force Secretary Barbara Barrett (pictured above) who oversaw the launch of Space Force.

• Barrett points out that the US and the global economy are totally dependent on satellites, especially the GPS. But as China has demonstrated, those satellites are vulnerable to attack. “It is a remarkable thing how completely dependent most Americans and people around the world are in our day-to-day lives on space (assets – i.e.: satellites),” said Barrett. She pointed out things that we take for granted that depend on GPS and other satellites. The time on our clocks are set by a satellite. Likewise our ATM machines and gas pumps. Weather predictions, crop monitoring, and environmental monitoring all depend on satellites.

• “[W]e built a glass house before we knew about stones, in that we have a vulnerable system,” says Barrett. “[W]e built it without consciousness of that vulnerability. So now … [w]e need to be able to protect that capability, and we need to deter others from attacking our GPS satellites. …[W] need to replace the current satellites with less vulnerable, more jam-resistant and protected satellites.”

• Forty people at a base in Colorado run the entire GPS system – free to the world. “I would put forward the GPS system… has had a bigger impact in a shorter time on all of mankind than any other invention in mankind’s time. I mean, think of fire, or the wheel, or the printing press — what would compete with the GPS system that has been fully operational just 25 years and is used by so many people around the world with so few people managing it?” asks Barrett. “It’s a remarkable reality of our time.”

• At age 13, Barrett become her family’s bread-winner for five siblings and her incapacitated mother, after the sudden death of her father. In the 1950’s, she trained as an astronaut in Kazakhstan and Russia where she learned the Russian language. She was the first civilian woman to land in an F-18 fighter aircraft on a moving aircraft carrier. She’s held executive positions in both the private and public sectors. She served as our ambassador to Finland, where she engaged in a war game dog fight in the air in an F-18 against the head of the Finnish Air Force. The joust was a draw.

• “[S]cience (and) technology, these are moving very rapidly right now, with artificial intelligence, machine learning, hypersonics, biological, nuclear, and chemical developments and training,” notes Barrett. “[W]e have to be fast and nimble… [a]nd that’s why the Space Force is being designed to be innovative, bold and agile.”

 

Almost a year ago, Air Force Secretary Barbara Barrett oversaw the launch of a new branch of our military, the U.S. Space Force, the first new service since the creation of the Air Force itself in 1947.

In this sobering, eye-opening segment of What’s Ahead, Barrett persuasively explains the crucial need for a service totally focused on our needs in

There are currently 1,100 active and 2,600 inactive satellites orbiting the Earth.

space. Like it or not, space has become a cockpit of power politics, a far cry from the peaceful area it was when we landed a man on the moon over 50 years ago. China and Russia have become aggressive. Beijing, for instance, used a missile to blow up one of its satellites to show what it could do to the thousands of satellites that now populate space. Barrett describes two hair-raising, space-based incidents that occurred with Russia.

We are vulnerable. For example, the U.S. and the global economy are totally dependent on satellites, most especially the GPS, which is operated by the Space Force.

Barrett is the perfect person to get this mission off the ground. She trained in her late 50s as an astronaut in Kazakhstan and then in Russia. She had to learn Russian while simultaneously undergoing intense training. She was the first civilian woman to land in an F-18 fighter aircraft on a moving aircraft carrier. She has successfully held executive positions in both the private and public sectors. She served as our ambassador to Finland, where she engaged in a war game dog fight in the air in an F-18 against the head of the Finnish Air Force (the joust was a draw).

At age 13 Barrett had to become her family’s bread-winner—for five siblings and her incapacitated mother—after the sudden death of her father.
You’ll leave our conversation wanting to learn even more about the Space Force and about Barbara Barrett herself.

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