Space Command: U.S. satellites ‘constrained’ by lack of mobility

A key concern is that U.S. surveillance satellites are at drawback due to their restricted maneuverability

CHANTILLY, Va. — Area powers are taking part in cat-and-mouse video games in geostationary orbit greater than 22,000 miles above Earth. In the last few years, Russian and Chinese language reconnaissance satellites have maneuvered to get a more in-depth have a look at U.S. army satellites that present essential companies like early warning, intelligence and surveillance. 

It is a rising drawback for U.S. Area Command, accountable for making certain the security of the nation’s satellites. A key concern is that U.S. surveillance satellites that monitor probably hostile actions are more and more at an obstacle due to their restricted maneuverability, mentioned Lt. Gen. John Shaw, deputy commander of U.S. Area Command.

The army’s geosynchronous house situational consciousness platforms ideally ought to have the ability to “maneuver with out remorse,” Shaw mentioned Jan. 24 on the Nationwide Safety Area Affiliation’s protection and intelligence convention.

Shaw in contrast a U.S. army geostationary satellite tv for pc to an RVs that’s offered with a full tank of fuel however can’t be refilled as soon as the gasoline is consumed. “That will severely restrict your choices if you plan your journey,” he mentioned. 

DoD’s geosynchronous satellites designed many years in the past had been supposed to stay static and carry out minimal maneuvers to protect gasoline. However now that rival nations are circling round, “we’d like to maneuver round and have a look at many issues within the geosynchronous sphere as a lot as we presumably can,” Shaw mentioned. Not having freedom to maneuver is “constraining us in a big approach. And it’s not enabling us to do dynamic house operations the way in which we’d like.”

Shaw mentioned Area Command has been placing numerous thought into this concern and is drafting necessities for future satellites to be developed by the U.S. Area Drive. 

Some options already are within the works, similar to deploying refueling stations in house and on-orbit servicing automobiles. One other method to deal with the issue is by making cheaper “commoditized” satellites that may be deployed extra incessantly than conventional big-ticket satellites, an initiative advocated by the pinnacle of Area Drive acquisitions Frank Calvelli.

“We now have this new type of requirement rising that we hadn’t actually thought by means of earlier than,” Shaw mentioned.  

U.S. programs ‘more and more weak’

Ronald Moultrie, undersecretary of protection for intelligence and safety, mentioned the ability competitors in house will solely intensify, and the US has to organize for the potential for anti-satellite weapon assaults.

“We aren’t the one nation that understands the very important significance of house,” he mentioned on the NSSA convention. 

“The enlargement of world house companies has positioned extra belongings in orbit, which is now exponentially multiplied after we think about our allies and opponents,” he mentioned. “Alarmingly, we all know that China and Russia are growing frequent house capabilities together with multiple-attack choices designed to ship a complete spectrum of results: some reversible, however some that may inflict everlasting injury.”

As these nations enhance their house asset monitoring programs, Moultrie added, “we’re more and more weak on this area.”

“To be able to keep forward of our opponents and stay the undisputed chief in house,” mentioned Moultrie, “we should modernize our structure, each in house and on the bottom to grow to be quicker, extra agile, and simply as importantly, extra resilient.”

He famous that DoD is planning a diversified house structure that features massive and small government-owned and business satellites in a number of orbits. 


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