Tag: US Air Force

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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Top Secret Photos of Calvine UFO Sighting Left Me “Shell-Shocked”

Article by Nick Pope                               October 10, 2020                                    (thescottishsun.co.uk)

• The top secret color photographs of the so-called ‘Calvine Incident’, when a flying saucer was clearly seen in the skies above the Scottish Highlands in August 1990 were set to be released in 2021. But now the British Ministry of Defence (MoD) has postponed the photographs’ release for another fifty years. Nick Pope worked for the Ministry of Defence for 21 years, from 1991 to 1994, and ran its UFO office. Pope (pictured above) tells the inside story.

• Two men had been out hiking near Calvine in Scotland. Suddenly, they saw a massive UFO hanging in the sky, silent and motionless above their heads. Awestruck, they shot six photographs before the object accelerated away, vertically, at immense speed. The hikers sent the photos to a Scottish newspaper. A journalist contacted the MoD press office looking for a comment. The MoD managed to extract all the photos and the negatives from the newspaper, who never got them back.

• The photos had been taken in broad daylight and showed a large, crystal clear, diamond-shaped craft. At the government intelligence photo lab, the images were enlarged and analyzed. The analysis revealed that the photos had not been faked. They showed a structured craft of unknown origin, unlike any conventional aircraft. There was no fuselage, no wings, no tail, no engines and no markings of any sort. The size of the craft was estimated to be 100 feet in diameter. An enlargement of the photos revealed two military jets in the background. It wasn’t clear if they were escorting the UFO, trying to intercept it, or whether their presence was coincidental and the pilots had been too far away to see it. Pope’s predecessor at the MoD-UFO office had been prevented from tracing the military jets in the photos. This suggested that someone inside the MoD had sabotaged the investigation and blocked the UFO project from getting to the truth. Dark forces were at work.

• The MoD’s standard line on UFOs was that the phenomenon was of ‘no defense significance’ – a meaningless Whitehall soundbite that meant whatever we wanted it to mean. At best it was misleading, and at worst it was a downright lie. Pope says that the MoD consistently played down the true level of its interest in UFOs, telling Parliament, the media and the public that the subject was of little interest, “while all the time, behind closed doors, we struggled to make sense of cases like the Calvine incident”.

• MoD officials never found a definitive explanation for what was seen at Calvine. Of the several hundred UFO sighting reports received each year, most turned out to be misidentifications of satellites, meteors, Chinese lanterns and other ordinary objects and phenomena. But around five percent of the cases remained unexplained. “We didn’t assume these unexplained cases were extraterrestrial,” says Pope, “but neither did we rule out the possibility.”

• In the mid-nineties, a ‘believer faction’ had emerged at the MoD. This led to some extraordinary scenes. One time Pope and his boss walked over to Defence Intelligence Staff headquarters building in Whitehall. These were the ‘spooks’ who provided scientific and technical advice. A military intelligence briefer pulled out a copy of one of the Calvine photos from a folder. The intelligence officer ran through the possibilities. The object in the photograph wasn’t Russian. And it wasn’t American. That only left one other possibility. The briefer pointed straight up. Nothing further was said, and Pope and his boss walked back to their office in silence.

• A bitter struggle between UFO skeptics and UFO believers had erupted within the MoD. In relation to the Calvine photos, the only possible skeptical theory was that the object was a secret prototype aircraft or drone. Could it be American? The U.S. authorities were asked if they’d been testing a secret ‘Aurora’-type aircraft over the UK, but the U.S. denied any such prototype craft over Scotland. Since this was the skeptics’ only possibility, they persistently asked again. The Secretary of the US Air Force, Donald Rice, was ‘incensed’ by the questioning and the implication that he’d lied to the US Congress when Rice told them Aurora didn’t exist.

• Until now, a clear color photo of the Calvine UFO adorned the office wall at the UFO division of the MoD. But due to the diplomatic dust-up between Britain’s RAF and the US Air Force caused by the photos, the head of the division took it off of the wall. This division head still believed that it had to be a secret American craft. It couldn’t have been an extraterrestrial UFO, because they don’t exist. So he locked the photo in a safe, and it’s rumored that he later put it through the shredder.

• Plenty of other copies of the Calvine UFO survived, however. Pope came out of retirement in 2008 to help publicize the declassification and release of the MoD’s UFO files. But when the relevant files were released, the Calvine photos were missing. All that remained were some poor-quality black and white photocopies of a line drawing of one photo. It was as if the MoD wanted to ridicule the subject. A few years ago, Pope teamed up with a graphic artist in Los Angeles. They reconstructed the photo for a TV show, using the line drawing and memory as a guide. The result was spot-on, but it’s still not the real thing.

 

           image of a Calvine photo

The top secret colour photographs, said to show a flying saucer above the Scottish Highlands in August 1990 – the so-called Calvine Incident – were set to be released in the New Year.

However, they have now been blocked for a further 50 years.

Here, former MoD official Nick Pope, who previously ran its UFO project, tells The Sun the inside story…

In the cult sci-fi series The X-Files, Fox Mulder has a poster of a UFO on the wall of his basement office. Underneath are the words “I want to believe”.

In the Ministry of Defence office, which served as the nerve centre of the UK’s UFO project, we had something very similar. But our picture was real.

Most UFO photos are either obvious fakes, or blurry and indistinct – a vague light in the night sky, or a fuzzy dot in the distance.

Not this one. It was up-close-and-personal, had been taken in broad daylight, and showed a large diamond-shaped craft.

       Nick Pope back in his ‘MoD days’

I soon got the story out of my predecessor and read the file myself. It was an extraordinary tale: two men had been out hiking near Calvine in Scotland.

Suddenly, they’d seen a massive UFO hanging in the sky above their heads, silent, motionless and menacing. Awestruck, they shot off six photographs before the object accelerated away at immense speed – vertically!

The shell-shocked witnesses sent the photos to a Scottish newspaper and a journalist contacted the MoD press office, looking for a comment.

Somehow – perhaps using a D-Notice or perhaps using some real-life Men-in-Black trickery – someone at the MoD managed to extract all the photos and the negatives from the newspaper, who never got them back.

The MoD’s technical wizards leapt into action. The images were enlarged and analyzed, using the full resources and capabilities of intelligence community specialists.

Even now, years after these events, I can’t discuss the details of this process, as so much of the information is top secret.

The analysis was nothing short of sensational. The photos hadn’t been faked.

They showed a structured craft of unknown origin, unlike any conventional aircraft. There was no fuselage, no wings, no tail, no engines and no markings of any sort.

 

8:44 minute Nick Pope lecture on the Calvine UFO incident from Nov 3, 2015  (‘The Vortex’ YouTube)

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Space Force Doesn’t Want to Send a Human to Do a Robot’s Job

Article by Nathan Strout                                 September 29, 2020                                 (c4isrnet.com)

• While Space Force officials have tried to keep the focus on what their personnel will do on the ground to support the nation’s space assets, this hasn’t dampened public speculation as to when Space Force will they send humans into orbit. A recent recruiting ad seemingly implied its members would literally be going to space.

• But for anyone joining the Space Force to be an astronaut, Maj. Gen. John Shaw has some bad news. “I think it will happen,” Shaw said on September 29th, “But I think it’s a long way off.” Shaw serves as both commander of Space Force’s Space Operations Command and for the U.S. Space Command’s Combined Force Space Component Command. Shaw sees two big reasons why it’s not likely to happen soon: “First, space isn’t really all that habitable for humans.” “And the second is, we’re getting darned good at this robotics thing in space.”

• “You know, the best robots that humans have ever created are probably satellites — either ones that explore other planets or operated within our own Earth/moon system,” said Shaw. “GPS satellites might be among those …and we’re only getting better with machine learning and artificial intelligence. We’re going to have an awful lot of automated and autonomous systems operating in Earth and lunar orbit and solar orbit in the days and years to come doing national security space activity.”

• The Space Force and the US Air Force are investing in robotic capabilities that preclude the need for humans in space. Most notable is the Robotic Servicing of Geosynchronous Spacecraft (RSGS) program being run by DARPA (illustrated above). With RSGS, DARPA wants to develop a robotic arm that can be placed on a free flying spacecraft which can navigate up to satellites to conduct repairs, orbital adjustments, or even install new payloads. DARPA hopes to launch a robotically enhanced vehicle into orbit in late 2022, where SpaceLogistics will provide the spacecraft and DARPA will provide the robotic arm.

• The Air Force Research Laboratory is building ROBOpilot, a robot that can fly planes, completely replacing the need for human pilots. It can press pedals to activate brakes, pull on the yoke to steer, adjust the throttle, and even read the dashboard instruments to see where it is and where it’s going.

• The secretive X-37b space plane is an unmanned vehicle is currently able to take off, carry host experiments into orbit, deploy satellites, and return to earth without humans on board.

• But Shaw believes that it’s inevitable. “At some point, yes, we will be putting humans into space,” said Shaw. “They may be operating command centers somewhere in the lunar environment or someplace else that are continuing to operate an architecture that is largely perhaps autonomous.”

• In July, the Sierra Nevada Corporation announced it had received a study contract for such autonomous orbital outposts in low Earth orbit. Missions will include hosting payloads, supporting space assembly and manufacturing, microgravity experimentation, logistics, training, testing and evaluations. SpaceNews confirmed that two other companies – Nanoracks and Arkisys – have also received study contracts.

• While these orbital outposts will be unmanned for now, a Defense Innovation Unit spokesperson said that it would be interested in securing a “human rating” for future outposts. So even if humans on orbit are not part of the military’s immediate plans, it remains a tantalizing possibility. “At some point that will happen. I just don’t know when,” said Shaw. “And it’s anybody’s guess to pick the year when that happens.”

 

                  Maj. Gen. John Shaw

Since it was established in Dec. 2019 — and probably even before that — one question has plagued the U.S. Space Force: when will they send humans into orbit?

While Space Force officials have tried to keep the focus on what their personnel will do on the ground to support the nation’s space assets, they’ve done little to dampen speculation. The Space Force probably didn’t help itself when it released a recruiting ad earlier this year that seemingly implied its members would literally be going to space.

But for anyone joining the Space Force to be an astronaut, Maj. Gen. John Shaw has some potentially bad news.

“I think it will happen,” said Shaw during the AFWERX Engage Space event Sept. 29. “But I think it’s a long way off.”

Shaw would know. He’s been a key member of the lean staff standing up both the Space Force and U.S. Space Command, serving simultaneously as commander of the former’s Space Operations Command and the latter’s Combined Force Space Component Command. While Shaw sees humans in orbit as part of the military’s plans somewhere down the line, there are two big reasons why it’s not likely to happen soon:
“First, space isn’t really all that habitable for humans. We’ve learned that since our early space days,” he explained. “And the second is, we’re getting darned good at this robotics thing in space.”

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