Tag Archives: ASAT

Congested and Scary–How to Make Space Friendly for Military Use

asteroid ida wth its own moon. image from wikipedia

From the DARPA website

The volume of Earth’s operational space domain is hundreds of thousands times larger than the Earth’s oceans. It contains thousands of objects hurtling at tens of thousands of miles per hour. The scales and speeds in this extreme environment are difficult enough to grasp conceptually, let alone operationally, as is required for commanders overseeing the nation’s increasingly critical space assets.

Current [US] space domain awareness tools and technologies were developed when there were many fewer objects in space. Only a few nations could even place satellites in orbit, and those orbits were easily predictable without advanced software tools. That situation has changed dramatically in the past decade with a developing space industry flooding once lonely orbits with volleys of satellite constellations. Despite this much more complex and chaotic environment, commanders with responsibility for space domain awareness often rely on outdated tools and processes—and thus incomplete information—as they plan, assess, and execute U.S. military operations in space.

To help address these technical and strategic challenges, DARPA is launching the first of two planned efforts under the Agency’s new Hallmark program, which has the overarching goal to provide breakthrough capabilities in U.S. space command and control. This first effort, the Hallmark Software Testbed (Hallmark-ST), has as its primary goal the creation of an advanced enterprise software architecture for a testbed for tools that will integrate a full spectrum of real-time space-domain systems and capabilities. The testbed would be used to expedite the creation and assessment of a comprehensive set of new and improved tools and technologies that could be spun off into near-term operational use for the Defense Department’s Joint Space Operations Center (JSpOC) and Joint Interagency Combined Space Operations Center (JICSpOC).

“For example, an intuitive user interface incorporating 3-D visualization technology would present complex information in novel ways and provide commanders with unprecedented awareness and comprehension. An advanced testbed featuring playback and simulation capabilities would significantly facilitate research and development activities, experiments, and exercises to evaluate new technologies for their impact on space command and control capabilities.”

The enterprise architecture would be the backbone of a long-term testbed, the Hallmark Space Evaluation and Analysis Capability (SEAC), anticipated to be located in Northern Virginia.

Excerpts from Hallmark Envisions Real-Time Space Command and Control,  www. darpa. mil, June 17, 2016

See alsoHallmark Software Testbed (Hallmark-ST)/Solicitation Number: DARPA-BAA-16-40, June 17, 2016 Federal Business Opportunities

Fighting Anti-Satellite Weapons, United States

The 16th Space Control Squadron is Air Force Space Command’s first defensive counterspace unit and employs the Rapid Attack, Identification, Detection, and Reporting System (RAIDS), that has the capability to detect an anti-satellite (ASAT)-

China’s Missile Defense System

China used a top-secret SC-19 anti-satellite (ASAT) missile in a test last year against a target missile as part of a missile-defense system that remains shrouded in secrecy.  The ASAT missile was fired against a new medium-range missile and details were disclosed in a State Department cable made public recently by WikiLeaks that included an outline of a diplomatic protest note to Beijing about both Chinese weapons programs.

The cable provides the first detailed U.S. assessment of what defense officials say is a major strategic advancement in China’s military buildup. It reveals that China’s anti-satellite system was developed for use not only against satellites but is part of a larger strategic missile-defense system.  Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates offered to hold strategic talks with China on missile defenses, as well as space, nuclear and cyberweapons, during a recent visit to Beijing. The offer was rebuffed by China’s defense minister, who said only that it would be studied.

Defense officials and private specialists said the cable further highlights official Chinese government duplicity in opposing U.S. missile defenses and promoting an international agreement to limit weapons in space at the same time it is secretly working on its own space weapons and missile defense programs.  Details of the Chinese SC-19 test are not expected to be included in the Pentagon’s annual report to Congress on the Chinese military that was due March 1 but remains under review by the Obama administration.

Chinese state-run media announced the January 2010 test in a two-sentence statement that made no mention of the use of the SC-19. The SC-19’s first successful test destroyed a Chinese weather satellite in January 2007, resulting in thousands of pieces of debris in orbit that remain a threat to both manned and unmanned space flight.

The current U.S. strategic missile defense has no direct capabilities for shooting down satellites. However, the Navy modified a ship-based SM-3 anti-missile interceptor to shoot down a falling U.S. satellite in 2008.

Chinese Embassy spokesman Wang Baodong repeated the comments of a Foreign Ministry spokesman who said the 2010 test was “defensive in nature and targeted at no country.”

“The U.S. Intelligence Community assesses that on 11 January 2010, China launched an SC-19 missile from the Korla Missile Test Complex and successfully intercepted a near-simultaneously launched CSS-X-11 medium-range ballistic missile launched from the Shuangchengzi Space and Missile Center,” the State Department cable said.  Little is known about the CSS-X-11, which could be an extended-range variant of the CSS-7 short-range missile.  U.S. missile warning satellites detected the launches and the intercept some 155 miles in space but detected no debris, the cable said.

“An SC-19 was used previously as the payload booster for the January 11, 2007, direct-ascent anti-satellite (DA-ASAT) intercept of the Chinese FY-1C weather satellite,” the cable said. “Previous SC-19 DA-ASAT flight-tests were conducted in 2005 and 2006. This test is assessed to have furthered both Chinese ASAT and ballistic missile defense (BMD) technologies.”

The cable said the U.S. government in its protest would not disclose that it knows China’s ASAT and missile defense programs are linked.  The draft demarche demanded to know the purpose of the test and whether it is part of a missile-defense system; whether China plans to deploy missile defenses for its forces and territory; what “foreign forces” is China planning to target with the missile defenses; and whether China tried to limit space debris.

Excerpt, Bill Gertz, Inside the Ring, Washington Times, Mar. 9, 2011