Anti-missile defense of a satellite protection?

Andrei: All modern defensive and offensive plans are in any way connected with outer space. 

Anastasia: So, the question is. What should be done in space, I mean in military aspect?

Oh, I know what you really mean. What emphasis should be paid when we’re talking of space defense?

That’s it.

In mid February The White House released a budget proposal that contains a spending plan for defense that grows from $553 billion in 2012 to a projected $611 billion by 2016.

The Pentagon’s budget seeks $10.7 billion for ballistic missile defense programs. Of that amount, $8.6 billion would go to the Missile Defense Agency. 

It includes $2 billion for its European missile defense system, which Republicans have panned. It also wants $780 million to “increase regional radars, continue Agency’s flight test program, add additional ground-based interceptors, and hedge capabilities against potential threats.

It sounds quite reasonable. 

It should have been so, but a 2007 briefing by General Patrick O’Reilly, director of the US Missile Defense Agency, disclosed that the radar system in Check Republic would be unable to detect long-range missiles in the launch phase because it could only see in a straight line, not over the horizon. 

By the time the radar “saw” the missile, it would be too late to launch an interceptor in time to stop it striking its target. 

The Czech radar system was the lynch-pin of George Bush’s “son of star wars” missile defense plans,  intended to intercept missiles launched from North Korea and Iran. 

Russia reacted furiously to the proposed system, which it claimed could threaten its own defenses and be used to spy on its interests. 

A leaked cable obtained by WikiLeaks detailing US talks with Moscow describes a briefing by General O’Reilly on the capabilities of the Czech radar. 

It states: “He noted that it was an X-Band radar which could only see in a straight line, not over the horizon; its range was approximately 2000 kilometers, its beam size was point 155 degrees; and it could not search and locate by itself. 

“The key was that the Czech radar could not bend radio waves; its minimum elevation was two degrees.

Therefore, the radar was incapable of seeing a missile in the boost phase. By the time the radar saw the missile, it would be too late to launch an interceptor. 

“Even with upgrades to the radar, Gen O’Reilly continued, an X-band radar in the Czech Republic would never give the US the capability to intercept Russia’s intercontinental ballistic missiles.” 

As we know, the USA planned to deploy anti-missile elements in East Europe for defense against the North Korean and Iranian threats. The project envisioned stationing 10 interceptor missiles in Poland and radar in the Czech Republic. 

In spite of many military men’s doubts about the efficiency of that system, President George Bush’s Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice victoriously declared the completion of talks on the deployment of the radar in the Czech Republic in the summer of 2008. 

But the plan was abandoned by President Barack Obama in September 2009, on the basis that the threat from Iran could now be countered by shorter-range systems.

Do we need a special space protection system?

Definitely, we do.

What does the US, Russia and China have in common?

Yes, they’ve all sent a man into space and successfully carried out spacewalks using home-made spaceships, but they have another space-based attribute in common.

They are all capable of shooting down satellites in Earth orbit. What’s more, all have proven it. So, we know for a fact that the technology is out there, and although it is still an extremely hard task, satellites are becoming more and more vulnerable to attack from the ground.

Experts now believe that anti-satellite technology is within reach of rogue states and some well-funded terrorist groups, using nothing more than a medium range missile, a college-level team of individuals and some crude, yet effective, technology.

So, the US Defense Department’s new National Security Space Strategy proposes an expanded international role for an operations center at Vandenberg Air Force Base in an effort to foster better global cooperation when it comes to outer space.

The policy signed by Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and Intelligence Director James R. Clapper spells out the game plan for dealing with an increasingly congested and competitive space environment.

“The National Security Space Strategy represents a significant departure from past practice,” Gates said in a written statement. “It is a pragmatic approach to maintain the advantages we derive from space while confronting the new challenges we face.”

More nations are putting satellites into space. At the same time, spacecraft are becoming increasingly important to U.S., Russia and other countries’ military operations and civilian life, making them targets of adversaries.

“Space has changed, so must our strategy,” said Gregory  Schulte, the deputy secretary of defense for space policy. “If Ethiopia can jam a commercial satellite, you have to worry about what others could do … There was a time 15 years ago when we didn’t have to worry about that. Now we have to think differently”.

The Joint Space Operations Center based at Vandenberg involves the Air Force along with Army, Navy and Marine Corps. The facility serves as the focal point for U.S. space forces and ensures satellites are available for U.S. military operations across the globe.

But the new strategy calls for transforming that facility into a Combined Space Operations Center with greater international participation.

The 10-year strategy is aimed at the responsible, peaceful and safe use of space, with the U.S. working with the European Union and Russia to draft an international code of conduct to establish some “rules of the road” to reduce the risk of mistrust, misconception and mishaps.

The Defense Department is calling for creating an international coalition that would share orbital data to promote spaceflight safety.

“In the past, when we in the U.S. thought about space, we tended to think about it alone,” Gregory Schulte said, adding that today the U.S. operates with coalitions on the sea, in the air and on the ground.

Moreover, the USA and Russia both have a unique space system at their disposal. Cospas-Sarsat is a search and rescue system that uses United States and Russian satellites to detect and locate emergency beacons indicating distress. 

The beacon transmitters are carried by individuals or aboard aircraft and ships. In the United States, the program is operated and funded by the Commerce Department’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the U.S. Coast Guard, the U.S. Air Force, and NASA.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration operates a series of polar-orbiting and geostationary environmental satellites that detect and locate aviators, mariners and land-based users in distress. 

These satellites, along with a network of ground stations and the U.S. Mission Control Center in  Md., are part of the Cospas-Sarsat program, whose mission is to relay distress signals to the international rescue community.

Originally sponsored by Canada, France, Russia, and the United States, and started during the Cold War, the system now includes 36 nations around the world. It operates 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and aims to reduce the time required to alert rescue authorities whenever a distress situation occurs.

“The system truly shows how U.S. government agencies and foreign countries can all work together for the good of humankind,” said Air Force Lt. Col. Scott Morgan, Air Force Rescue Coordination Center commanding officer.

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