Tag: US Space Force

Pentagon Taps Elon Musk’s SpaceX to Track Hypersonic Weapons from Space

Article by Nolan Peterson                                  October 6, 2020                                 (wearethemighty.com)

• The US Department of Defense has awarded Elon Musk’s ‘Space X’ a $149 million contract to build satellites to track hypersonic missiles, as part of the Space Development Agency’s planned “mega-constellation” of weapons-tracking satellites. Both SpaceX and L3 Harris Technologies Inc. will produce four satellites for the Pentagon each. The satellites will be equipped with ‘wide field of view’ ‘overhead persistent infrared’ (OPIR) sensors.

• The commercial-built satellites will form the first layer of a planned surveillance network to track hypersonic missiles. Under the Space Development Agency’s National Defense Space Architecture, the US will put into orbit a constellation of hundreds of satellites, primarily in low Earth orbit, to track maneuverable hypersonic missiles — a weapons technology currently under development by both Russia and China.

• In 2018, Russian President Vladimir Putin unveiled new weapons that he touted would be able to defeat US missile defense systems. Among those new weapons was the ‘Avangard’ hypersonic glide vehicle, supposedly capable of flying at Mach 27. The Avangard reportedly went operational in December.

• In August, China tested a ballistic missile capable of carrying a hypersonic glide vehicle. The flight paths of intercontinental ballistic missiles can be easily predicted after launch. Hypersonic missiles, however, can be steered in flight, making them much harder to track and a more evasive mark for anti-missile defense systems.

• Some experts warn that the Pentagon’s ‘Hypersonic and Ballistic Missile Tracking Space Sensor’ program doesn’t have enough funding and is plagued with challenges when it comes to integrating with other missile defense systems and linking to advanced interceptors and directed energy weapons.

• The US Space Force already possesses missile-tracking satellites in high geosynchronous orbits. The new satellites will operate from much lower orbits and will therefore have a comparatively limited field of view, requiring the creation of a constellation of satellites that can effectively hand off tracking responsibilities as they follow the flight path of a hypersonic weapon from horizon to horizon.

• SpaceX and L3 Harris are expected to deliver their first of eight satellites by fall of 2022. Initial operating capability is expected by 2024. The entire missile-tracking constellation is planned for completion by 2026.

• SpaceX has already launched two NASA astronauts to the International Space Station aboard a SpaceX Dragon capsule, powered into orbit by the company’s Falcon 9 rocket. It marked America’s return to active spaceflight operations after a nine-year hiatus following the last space shuttle flight in 2011. SpaceX was recently selected by the Space Force to carry out national security space launch missions over the next five years. SpaceX’s Starlink program is currently creating a mega-constellation of small satellites in low Earth orbit to provide global broadband coverage for high-speed internet access. SpaceX anticipates Starlink will achieve “near global coverage of the populated world by 2021.”

 

                         Elon Musk

SpaceX has won a $149 million Department of Defense contract to build satellites to track hypersonic missiles, marking the first government contract for building such equipment for Elon Musk’s groundbreaking commercial spaceflight company.

As part of the Space Development Agency’s planned “mega-constellation” of weapons-tracking satellites, both SpaceX and L3 Harris Technologies Inc. will produce four satellites for the Pentagon to track hypersonic weapons. The L3 Harris contract to build its four satellites is reportedly valued at $193 million.

The eight commercially produced satellites will be equipped with wide field of view (WFOV) overhead persistent infrared (OPIR) sensors. Those satellites will form the first layer of a planned surveillance network to track hypersonic missiles.

Under the Space Development Agency’s National Defense Space Architecture, the US will put into orbit a constellation of hundreds of satellites, primarily in low Earth orbit, to track maneuverable hypersonic missiles — a weapons technology currently under development by both Russia and China.

In 2018, Russian President Vladimir Putin unveiled new weapons that he touted would be able to defeat US missile defense systems. Among those new weapons was the Avangard hypersonic glide vehicle, supposedly capable of flying at Mach 27. The Avangard reportedly went operational in December.

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Why the US is Risking a Pearl Harbor in Space

Article by Brandon J. Weichert                              September 12, 2020                                    (nypost.com)

• For the last decade, Beijing and Moscow have both reorganized their militaries — and developed weapons to wage a space war against the United States. President Trump created the US Space Force and charged it with ensuring American dominance in space. But over the past 20 years, US leaders have failed to maintain American dominance in space. The situation is now so precarious that we could see another “Pearl Harbor” in space.

• Without the Space Force, America’s satellites would be left completely open to attack. Still, Space Force is criticized, lampooned, or opposed based only on partisan politics. It has received no support from the US Air Force, as it thinks that the Space Force will siphon funding and resources away from it. Congress itself has not adequately resourced the new military branch, and in-fighting at the Pentagon has not helped.

• Meanwhile, China has developed multiple ways of deactivating or destroying an orbiting satellite, from powerful lasers that can blind American satellites to ground-based anti-satellite (ASAT) rockets. In 2007, China demonstrated its capabilities by launching an ASAT weapon to decimate a derelict Chinese weather satellite, thereby creating the largest debris field in human history. Beijing even has the ability to “spoof” American GPS satellites, to confuse American military units and weapons in times of war.

• On September 3rd, China launched a reusable spacecraft that, before returning to Earth three days later, released a smaller object that still remains in orbit today. There is concern that this device is an offensive “space stalker” designed to covertly tailgate American satellites and push them from their orbits. (see ExoArticle here) Russia has nearly identical counter-space capabilities. As recently as July, the US and UK governments accused Russia of illegally testing a space stalker in orbit.

• Without the dominant protection of our assets in space, US forces patrolling the South China Sea could find themselves under attack and unable to respond due to our satellites being disabled. Russia could do the same to nudge US satellites out of orbit, rendering vulnerable our NATO forces in Eastern Europe. Space Force will need considerably more support and less bureaucratic squabbling to provide this essential protection – and it must happen in relatively short order.

[Editor’s Note]   The US’ military and those of China and Russia are well aware of the United States’ vast but undisclosed secret space program which is decades ahead of anything that the Chinese or the Russians have. Starting with Space Force, President Trump is consolidating our disparate space assets and programs to secure space dominance in near orbit (cis-lunar) space while the Navy’s Solar Warden will continue to patrol the solar system and deep space. Not that there aren’t other advanced space programs out there to worry about, such as the Draco Reptilian fleet and the Nazi Dark Fleet. But from an exopolitical standpoint, China and Russia are the least of our worries.

 

For the last decade, Beijing and Moscow have both reorganized their militaries — and developed weapons — to wage a space war against the United States. The situation is now so precarious that America could face a Pearl Harbor in space.

As far back as 2007, China shocked the world when it launched an antisatellite (ASAT) weapon into low-Earth orbit and decimated a derelict weather satellite. ASAT technology is not new but the way China deployed it was both irresponsible and aggressive. Traditionally, countries have publicly announced when they planned to conduct ASAT tests, because they could damage satellites passing by the test site. China told no one. Then, China’s ASAT test created the largest debris field in human history. It also signaled to the West that China was ready for a new form of combat.

China has invested heavily in lasers powerful enough to blind American satellites. Beijing has also developed the ability to “spoof” American GPS satellites, which could confuse American military units and weapons in times of war. On Sept. 3, China surprised the world when it launched a reusable spacecraft that, before returning to Earth three days later, released a smaller object that still remains in orbit today. There is concern that this device is an offensive “space stalker” designed to covertly tailgate American satellites and push them from their orbits.

Russia has nearly identical counterspace capabilities. As recently as July, the US and UK governments accused Russia of illegally testing a space stalker in orbit.

This is all deeply worrying. Either Beijing or Moscow could use their technological might to rewrite the geopolitical order in their favor. US forces patrolling the South China Sea, for example, could find themselves under attack from China but unable to call for reinforcements or coordinate a viable defense — simply because their critical satellites have been destroyed before the siege began.

Similarly, Russia could disable NATO forces charged with defending an Eastern European state — simply by nudging US satellites out of orbit.

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Space Coast Air Force Members Transfer to Space Force

Article by Emre Kelly                                 September 4, 2020                              (floridatoday.com)

• On September 2nd, more than two dozen Air Force service members stationed on the Space Coast of Florida transferred to the Space Force. They are a small part of the 2,410 active-duty airmen that will transfer to the military’s newest branch before the end of the year.

• 26 airmen – 19 officers and seven enlisted – transferred during ceremonies at Patrick Air Force Base and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. All are assigned to either the space operations or space systems operations career fields.

• To transfer, airmen have to officially separate from the Air Force and re-commit to the Space Force under the same rank. Both officers and enlisted personnel must agreed to a two-year minimum active-duty commitment.

• “This is a momentous occasion for the Space Force and for each of these space professionals,” said Space Force leader Gen. John “Jay” Raymond said. “We intend to give our newest Space Force members and their families the special recognition they deserve.”

• What still remains to be seen are the planned name changes of the Space Coast’s two Air Force bases to Patrick Space Force Base and Cape Canaveral Space Force Station. A ceremony was planned earlier this year, but the coronavirus pandemic put those plans on hold. A wing spokesperson confirmed the name changes will still happen, but the timeline is under review.

 

More than two dozen Air Force service members stationed on the Space Coast officially transferred to the Space Force on Wednesday, marking a small part of the overall effort to move thousands to the military’s newest branch before the end of the year.

             Gen. John “Jay” Raymond

The 45th Space Wing confirmed that 26 airmen – 19 officers and seven enlisted – transferred during small ceremonies led by their squadron commanders at Patrick Air Force Base and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. All are assigned to either the space operations or space systems operations career fields.

The local moves are part of a branch-wide effort that started Tuesday to transfer 2,410 active-duty airmen in those two roles to the Space Force over the coming months. The first batch includes airmen who volunteered for the transition in May.

To transfer, airmen have to officially separate from the Air Force during the ceremony and re-commit to the new service under the same rank. Both officers and enlisted personnel agreed to a two-year minimum active-duty commitment to the Space Force.

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