Tag: US Air Force

NASA Commander to be Sworn into US Space Force From the International Space Station

Article by Sandra Erwin                                October 28, 2020                                    (spacenews.com)

• NASA astronaut and US Air Force colonel Michael Hopkins is the commander of an upcoming SpaceX Crew Dragon mission to the International Space Station (ISS). Hopkins is also planning to transfer to the US Space Force.

• “If all goes well, we’re looking to swear him into the Space Force from the International Space Station,” said Gen. John “Jay” Raymond, chief of space operations of the US Space Force. Raymond is working with NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine on the details of a planned transfer ceremony as a way to highlight the decades-long partnership between DoD and NASA.

• NASA’s SpaceX Crew-1 mission is scheduled to launch on November 14th from Kennedy Space Center, Florida. The crew of four includes Hopkins, NASA astronauts Victor Glover and Shannon Walker, and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency mission specialist Soichi Noguchi (all 4 pictured above).

• For more than 60 years, men and women from the five military branches have helped fill the ranks of the NASA astronaut corps. Hopkins was selected by NASA to be an astronaut in 2009. Like hundreds of other Air Force airmen, Hopkins is voluntarily transferring to Space Force. He will be the first member of the Space Force to serve in NASA’s astronaut corps.

 

      Michael Hopkins

WASHINGTON — NASA astronaut Michael Hopkins, a U.S. Air Force colonel and the commander of the upcoming SpaceX Crew Dragon mission, is transferring to the U.S. Space Force and is expected to be commissioned aboard the International Space Station.

         the International Space Station

“If all goes well, we’re looking to swear him into the Space Force from the International Space Station,” said Gen. John “Jay” Raymond, chief of space operations of the U.S. Space Force.

Col. Michael “Hopper” Hopkins is the commander of NASA’s SpaceX Crew-1 mission scheduled to launch Nov. 14 from Kennedy Space Center, Florida. The crew of four includes Hopkins, NASA astronauts Victor Glover and Shannon Walker, and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency mission specialist Soichi Noguchi.

Col. Catie Hague, a spokesperson for the chief of space operations, told SpaceNews that the service is working with NASA to schedule a transfer ceremony once Hopkins is on board the International Space Station.

Hopkins, like hundreds of other airmen who are now in the Space Force, is transferring voluntarily. He was selected by NASA to be an astronaut in 2009.

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Space Force Built for War?

Article by Ryan Faith                                   October 16, 2020                                  (realcleardefense.com)

• Space Force keeps a tight lid on its military intentions. Therefore, Russian or Chinese space warfare theorists might assume that a ‘kinetic’ (ie: shooting) war could be in the works. As in the US Air Force, the purveyors of kinetic mayhem tend to be culturally dominant. And Space Force has been no exception. These kinetic mayhem purveyors present a louder, more muscular, aggressive face of the Space Force. The non-kinetic approaches to space dominance get little discussion. The overall message suggests a Space Force with a strong bias towards kinetic warfare.

• At the same time, the US Space Force does not discuss the activities of its potential foes, and publicly there’s little to suggest that US opponents are hostile and aggressive. This makes the cultural bias in Space Force towards kinetic action appear to be an itchy trigger finger, not a response to real-life aggression.

• Kinetic action in space comes with an immense risk associated with orbital debris. In 2007, China demonstrated an anti-satellite weapon, and created more than 3,000 bits of space shrapnel in space. At immense orbital speeds, an impact by even a small bit of debris can have a devastating effect. This in turn creates more orbital debris in a sort of feedback effect called the Kessler Syndrome. This in itself creates some talk of strategic deterrent to an orbital debris chain-reaction that results in unintentional mutually assured response and destruction.

• The US Space Force would probably benefit by clarifying that a kinetic response must be in response to a legitimate threat or attack. Secondly, the US has a variety of tools at its disposal to manage the escalation of a space conflict without blowing a space asset to smithereens.

• But these suggestions are just a small part of the extensive political-social-media context of space operations as the backdrop to combat operations for the foreseeable future. The reality of a space conflict today may be a matter of winning the security battle versus losing the messaging war tomorrow.

 

If I were a Russian or Chinese space warfare theorist, thinking about a future war with the United States, it might be reasonable to bet that the newly-minted U.S. Space Force was planning for a kinetic space conflict, starting on Day 1.

Understandably, the Space Force keeps a tight lid on broader discussions of its capabilities. There isn’t a lot of direct information one way or another. Without a clear understanding of what the U.S. can do, an analyst might start trying to figure out U.S. intentions.

The culture of the Space Force might still be unformed and changing; it does bear at least a family resemblance to its sister services in at least one significant respect. In the services, the purveyors of kinetic mayhem — the shooters and the killers — tend to be culturally dominant within their respective services. The Space Force has been no exception to this.

Whether or not the Space Force shooters want to or not, they present a louder, more muscular, aggressive face of the Space Force. Conversely, non-kinetic approaches to space dominance get little discussion indeed.

Between the relative boldness of the kinetic space warfare community and the comparative silence of the non-kinetic warfare practitioners, the overall message suggests a Space Force with a strong bias towards kinetic warfare.

Compounding this problem, the USSF does not speak a lot about the activities of its potential foes. In public discussion, there’s little to suggest that U.S. opponents are hostile and aggressive and that need a muscular response. Keeping malicious actions secret makes the cultural bias towards kinetic action appear spontaneous — that it is not a response to unfortunate real-life conditions, but more of an itchy trigger finger.

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Space Force Developing Offensive Capabilities in Space

Article by Frank Wolfe                                       October 19, 2020                                   (satellitetoday.com)

• In 1958, the United States was the first nation to test an ‘Anti-Satellite’ (ASAT) weapon, launched from a bomber. Since then, Russia, China, and India have demonstrated their abilities to destroy orbiting satellites as well. US Air Force and Space Force officials have largely promoted the resilience and redundancy of US space assets and protecting them from enemy attacks. At last year’s Space Symposium, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein stated, “If …your country is interested in participating in manned spaceflight, then you should not be …creating (a) risk to manned spaceflight. So demonstrating any capability that would create more (dangerous space) debris, in my mind, is a step in the wrong direction.”

• That type of thinking may have changed in 2007 when the Chinese demonstrated their anti-satellite weaponry on one of their own satellites, creating a swarm of space debris. “That was a clarifying event,” said Air Force Lt. Gen. B. Chance Saltzman, Space Force’s deputy chief of space operations. “I can almost chart from there the establishment of the Space Force, because suddenly space was contested.” “[T]hat kinetic attack on a satellite really shook the foundations that this is no longer a benign environment, and we started asking the questions about are we properly structured and organized and doing the right kinds of things to be able to maintain our advantage.”

• “[T]o some degree, the aggressive behavior of our competitors has clarified what we need to do as a nation and in the Department of Defense,” Saltzman continued. “They awoke the great giant that is the United States. [W]e are now moving rapidly toward developing capability to ensure that we maintain that strategic advantage…for a long time.” “I think the best defense sometimes is a good offense.”

• In April, after Russia tested a direct-ascent ASAT, John “Jay” Raymond, the Space Force’s chief of space operations, called it “further proof of Russia’s hypocritical advocacy of outer space arms control proposals designed to restrict the capabilities of the United States, while clearly having no intention of halting their counter-space weapons programs.”

• A recent ‘Roadmap for Assessing Space Weapons’ report from Aerospace Corporation‘s Center for Space Policy and Strategy said that the U.S. should not rush headlong into the development of new space weapons. “To avoid Russia and China imposing unnecessary costs on the United States, US decisions on space weapons should not be made simply in reaction to China and Russia’s space weaponization. US decisions on space weapons require an exhaustive comparative analysis of the value to US national security to develop, build, and deploy any type of space weapon, and the downsides to such a decision. Is the United States better off with or without space weapons of any type? …The analysis might lead to a conclusion that certain types of weapons or certain functions of such weapons are advantageous while others are not.”

 

 Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein

The U.S was the first nation to test Anti-Satellite (ASAT) weapons in 1958 with bomber-launched ASATs, and three other nations have demonstrated the ability to destroy orbiting satellites — Russia, China, and, most recently, India, with a test in March last year. Officials from the U.S. Air Force and the U.S. Space Force have largely confined themselves to talking about building the resilience and redundancy of U.S. space assets and protecting them from enemy attacks, such as ASATs.

At last year’s Space Symposium, Air Force leaders discussed space deterrence through a lens of rapid response to adversary actions, and then Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein told Via Satellite sister publication Defense Daily that an ASAT test “absolutely isn’t the way” to demonstrate a space deterrent capability.

  Air Force Lt. Gen. B. Chance Saltzman

“If you take the long view and your country is interested in participating in manned spaceflight, then you should not be contributing in any way, shape or form to creating risk to manned spaceflight,” he said. “So demonstrating any capability that would create more debris, in my mind, is a step in the wrong direction.”

That thinking may be changing.

                John “Jay” Raymond

“I was on the ops floor in 2007 when the Chinese shot their own satellite down,” Air Force Lt. Gen. B. Chance Saltzman, Space Force’s deputy chief of space operations for operations, cyber, and nuclear, said during an Oct. 16 Aerospace Nation forum sponsored by the Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies. “That was a clarifying event, and I can almost chart from there the establishment of the Space Force because suddenly space was contested.”

“We knew there was other kinds of [space] contesting going on, but that kinetic attack on a satellite really shook the foundations that this is no longer a benign environment, and we started asking the questions about are we properly structured and organized and doing the right kinds of things to be able to maintain our advantage,” Saltzman said.

“And so, to some degree, the aggressive behavior of our competitors has clarified what we need to do as a nation and in the Department of Defense,” he said. “They awoke the great giant that is the United States, and we are now moving rapidly toward developing capability to ensure that we maintain that strategic advantage. We’re going to be able to compete in that area for a long time.”

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