Entries Tagged as 'Space'

US aims to boost combat manhunt precision

May 22, 2013

US to boost military manhunt capabilities with RFID satellites

The US military is planning to launch a new, efficient method of sending small satellites into space which will dramatically boost soldiers’ ability to locate, track and eventually annihilate potential enemies.

The military has spent years quietly developing and implementing radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags to track Taliban leaders, suspected terrorists, and other perceived enemies. Tribesmen in the Middle East are paid to “plant the electronic devices” on the intended targets or the targets’ home, according to a 2009 report in The Guardian.

The device can be tracked to within three feet of its location, providing targeting co-ordinates that have become integral in launching drone strikes.

“Transmitters make a lot of sense to me,” former CIA case officer Robert Baer told Wired in 2009. “It is simply not possible to train a Pashtun from Waziristan to go to a targeted site, case it, and come back to Peshawar or Islamabad with anything like an accurate report. The best you can hope for it they’re putting the transmitter right on the house.”

The United States Special Operations Command (SOCOM) will advance that strategy with the September rocket launch from Wallops, Virginia. Attached to the sides of the rocket will be eight devices that will be dispersed 300 miles above Earth then act as beacons for US intelligence. …

Read on: http://rt.com/usa/advances-mideast-tracking-satellite-601/

Sbirs Gets Second Set Of Eyes In Orbit

Aviation Week
By Amy Butler
April 23, 2013

The second Space-Based Infrared System (Sbirs) satellite has achieved “first light,” and officials expect that it will be certified to warn commanders of ballistic missiles by year’s end, says Jeff Smith, vice president for the program for prime contractor Lockheed Martin. First light means the covers for the sensitive infrared payloads — a scanner and a starer — were removed. The system is now being calibrated.

The Sbirs satellite, the second to be placed in geosynchronous (GEO) orbit, was launched March 19 on an Atlas V from Cape Canaveral.

GEO-1 was launched in May 2011. Its scanner has yet to be certified to deliver Integrated Tactical Warning/Attack Assessment (ITWAA) messages. These messages are used to tip off U.S. missile defenses about incoming targets. The Air Force has prioritized use of the scanning sensor first, leaving the newer staring sensor for certification later.

As a replacement for the Defense Support System (DSP), Sbirs will be responsible for providing information on targets — such as launch point, vector and impact point.

Its data will be fed into the Missile Defense Agency’s Command, Control Battle Management and Communications System, which links to sea- and ground-based interceptors in the field. …

Read on: www.aviationweek.com/Article.aspx?id=/article-xml/asd_04_23_2013_p03-01-572052.xml

US Air Force’s X37B ‘Secret Space Plane’ Marks Two Mysterious Months In Orbit

Huffington Post
By Michael Rundle
February 22, 2013

The US military has had a robotic space plane in orbit around Earth since December – and no one knows what it’s doing.


The US Air Force’s X-37B space craft is a reusable, currently unmanned vehicle similar – though smaller – than the retired Space Shuttle.

The Boeing-built X-37B is about 30 feet long, 15 feet wide, weighs 11,000 pounds and can carry about the same load as a delivery van.

It took off from Cape Canaveral on 11 December, carried by an Atlas V rocket.

It has now been in space for more than two months, and shows no signs of returning.

It is the same vehicle which spent 225 mysterious days in space in 2010 before landing automatically in California – and as such marks the first time the US Navy has successfully reused space hardware. …

Read on, + more pictures: www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2013/02/22/us-air-forces-x37b-secret_n_2739384.html

Secret US spy satellite launches on classified mission

By space.com
September 14, 2012

A secret U.S. spy satellite launched into space atop a 19-story rocket Thursday (Sept. 13), ending a six-week delay for the latest clandestine space mission by the National Reconnaissance Office.

An Atlas 5 rocket launched the new NROL-36 satellite and 11 tiny research satellites into orbit from a pad at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The rocket lifted off at 2:39 p.m. PDT (5:39 p.m. EDT/2139 GMT) following weeks of delay due to launch range issues.

“Liftoff occurred right on time at the top of the window,” said launch commentator Don Spencer of United Launch Alliance (ULA), the company that oversaw the NROL-36 flight for the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO).

Because the NROL-36 satellite’s mission is classified, it entered a media blackout 4.5 minutes after liftoff.

The NROL-36 spacecraft’s national defense mission is the fourth and last flight of 2012 for the NRO, which builds and operates the United States’ spy satellites …

Read on: www.foxnews.com/science/2012/09/13/secret-us-spy-satellite-launches-into-space-after-6-week-delay

Raytheon Wins Boeing Contract Worth $636 Million To Develop Exoatmospheric Kill Vehicle

July 10, 2012

Raytheon announced on Monday that it has won a $636 million contract awarded by Boeing to continue work on the key interceptor for the U.S. ground-based missile defense system.

Under the terms of the contract, which extends until 2018, Raytheon will provide EKV development Exoatmospheric Kill Vehicle, fielding, testing, system engineering, integration, configuration management, equipment manufacturing, operation and sustainment.

After two failed missile defense tests in 2010, the U.S. Missile Defense Agency last year halted deliveries of the advanced warhead. An investigation looking into the failures found that the problem came from a design flaw on the warhead’s advanced guidance system that could only be detected in outer space.

Designed to destroy incoming ballistic missile threats by colliding with them, a concept sometimes described as “hit to kill”, the EKV represents the centerpiece for the Missile Defense Agency’s GMD as the intercept component of the Ground Based Interceptor, also known as GBI, which is designed to engage high-speed ballistic missile warheads in space. …


‘US outer space missile defense is mission impossible’

May 10, 2012

As US officials reopen the debate on placing elements of the country’s global missile defense system in space, one Russian analyst says it would always be possible to breach such out-of-this-world defenses.

­The United States cannot build an absolutely invulnerable missile defense system even if it deploys some of its elements in outer space, says Yury Zaitsev, an academic advisor of the Russian Academy of Engineering Sciences.

“Even a brief review of possible measures to neutralize such a comprehensive missile defense system shows that it is absolutely unnecessary to fully destroy it,” Zaitsev said, commenting on American plans to build a global missile defense system. “It is enough to make a breach in [the missile defense system] by affecting its most vulnerable elements, [thereby] delivering a retaliatory strike powerful enough to be unacceptable to an aggressor.”

“Apart from the need to resolve difficult technical problems, an efficient missile defense system with its attack elements deployed in space will require broad application of various space systems performing support functions,” he said.

“These are missile detection, global positioning, communications, control and other systems,” he added.

US military officials have once again introduced the idea of deploying interceptor missiles in outer space because, according to the leading Russian academic, they understand that any ground-based missile defense system will be unable – even in the distant future – of protecting the country from ballistic missiles, especially those armed with multiple warheads.

Read on: http://rt.com/politics/us-missile-defense-space-russia-923/

China’s Space Advances Worry US Military

by Mike Wall
February 28, 2012

The rise of China’s space program may pose a potentially serious military threat to the United States down the road, top American intelligence officials contend.

China continues to develop technology designed to destroy or disable satellites, which makes the United States and other nations with considerable on-orbit assets nervous. Even Beijing’s ambitious human spaceflight plans are cause for some concern, since most space-technology advances could have military applications, officials say.

“The space program, including ostensible civil projects, supports China’s growing ability to deny or degrade the space assets of potential adversaries and enhances China’s conventional military capabilities,” Army Lt. Gen. Ronald Burgess, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, wrote in testimony presented before the U.S. Senate’s Armed Services Committee Feb. 16. …

Read on: www.space.com/14697-china-space-program-military-threat.html

U.S. Navy satellite launch scrubbed again

February 17, 2012

A second attempt to launch a U.S. Navy communications satellite into space was scrubbed late Friday due to poor weather, a spacecraft-launch service said.

The next opportunity for an Atlas V rocket launch will be Wednesday, said United Launch Alliance, a joint venture of Lockheed Martin Corp. and Boeing Co., created to provide spacecraft-launch services to the U.S. government. …

Once in orbit, the satellite is expected to become four smaller satellites… Ground crews are to establish communications, and each satellite is to be sent to a planned orbit within 10 days, creating constant global communication for troops on the ground. …

In full: www.upi.com/Science_News/2012/02/17/US-Navy-satellite-launch-scrubbed-again/UPI-77281329530139/

MDA Seeks Big Increase in Space Spending

Space News
By Titus Ledbetter III
February 14, 2012

The U.S. Missile Defense Agency (MDA) is seeking a significant funding boost for a space-based missile tracking system …

The overall 2013 MDA budget request is $7.7 billion, compared to the agency’s current year budget of $8.4 billion. This sum does not include missile defense efforts that are not directly overseen by the MDA, such as the Patriot Advanced Capability 3 interceptor. The Pentagon’s total request for missile defense efforts next year is $9.7 billion, down from $10.4 billion this year.

The MDA’s 2013 request allocates $297.3 million for the Precision Tracking Space System (PTSS), a proposed constellation of satellites that would track ballistic missiles during the midcourse portion of flight. Congress allocated $80.7 million for the program in 2012, or about half of what the MDA had requested.

The agency’s 2013 PTSS program goals include the completion of preliminary designs for the spacecraft platform, optical payload and communications payload, according to budget documents. The agency will rely on the Johns Hopkins University’s Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Md., to develop a PTSS prototype to be launched in 2015. An industry team is expected to be chosen in 2014 to build between nine and 12 operational spacecraft planned to begin launching in 2018. …

In full: www.spacenews.com/military/120214-mda-seeks-increase-spending.html

Atlas V launch with SBIRS GEO-1 scrubbed due to weather

by William Graham
May 7, 2011

The United Launch Alliance (ULA) have successfully made a second attempt to launch their Atlas V 401 – from Cape Canaveral on Saturday at 2:10pm EDT – following several failed attempts to find a gap in unacceptable weather during the 40 minute launch window on Friday – resulting in a 24 hour scrub turnaround. The Atlas V launched with the first in a new series of early warning satellites to detect missile launches. …

The satellite, SBIRS GEO-1, is the first dedicated spacecraft to be launched as part of the Space Based Infrared System, or SBIRS, although two sensor packages hosted on other satellites are already in orbit. SBIRS is a system of spacecraft which monitor the Earth using infrared sensors in order to detect and track missile launches. …

The need to detect missile launches dates back to the Cold War, when both the United States and the Soviet Union perceived a danger that the other could launch a surprise nuclear attack. In the mid 1950s, the United States began development of the first space-based missile detection system; the Missile Defense Alarm System or MIDAS, which used satellites in low Earth orbit equipped with infrared sensors to detect launches. …


Two SBIRS radomes were built at Menwith Hill in 1999.