Monday, July 15, 2024

U.S. navy to spice up surveillance property in orbit

U.S. navy to spice up surveillance property in orbit

WASHINGTON — The U.S. navy is seeking to bolster its capacity to detect and monitor potential threats within the geosynchronous equatorial orbit, a important orbital perch for the nation’s most essential navy and intelligence satellites.

With a rising want for higher “house area consciousness,” the Pentagon needs extra satellites appearing as eyes and ears within the GEO belt, about 22,300 miles above the Earth, stated Gen. Stephen Whiting, commander of U.S. Area Command.

U.S. Area Command, based mostly in Colorado Springs, is liable for navy operations within the house area.

The U.S. Area Drive is modernizing ground-based sensors, comparable to a deep house radar, which are important to monitoring the GEO belt, Whiting stated March 20 throughout a gathering with reporters on the Pentagon. 

Floor sensors, nevertheless, are restricted by distance and climate so the Area Drive and the intelligence group are engaged on new surveillance satellites to maintain a more in-depth eye on potential threats comparable to anti-satellite weapons. 

“China has constructed this ‘kill internet’ utilizing house enabled capabilities over the Pacific the place they will discover, repair, monitor, goal and interact U.S. and allied capabilities terrestrially and in house,” Whiting stated. In response, he added, higher consciousness of what spacecraft are in orbit is important.

Whiting on March 21 testified in entrance of the Home Armed Companies Committee’s strategic forces subcommittee. He instructed lawmakers Area Command submitted a $1.2 billion record of so-called “unfunded necessities” that weren’t included within the not too long ago submitted 2025 protection finances. 

Congress requires navy leaders to submit these lists yearly, shortly after the president’s finances is launched.

Whiting stated Area Command’s unfunded necessities embody a lot of techniques wanted to trace and goal potential threats. 

SilentBarker a ‘important program’

Whiting instructed reporters that earlier this week he paid a go to to the Nationwide Reconnaissance Workplace in Chantilly, Virginia. Officers from the company that operates the nation’s spy satellites briefed him on the categorized “SilentBarker” satellites that monitor the GEO belt.

“SilentBarker is a vital program for us,” Whiting stated. “That’s about offering indications and warnings of threats within the GEO belt. That may be a program we need to see proceed.”

SilentBarker is a joint initiative between the Nationwide Reconnaissance Workplace and the Area Drive. The primary iteration of SilentBarker launched two payloads in September 2023. A second set of payloads are within the works. 

SilentBarker focuses on “indications and warnings,” or uncooked knowledge that gives clues or purple flags. The Area Drive additionally deploys Geosynchronous Area Situational Consciousness Program satellites, or GSSAP. These are imaging satellites that carry out detailed remark of different satellites. Whereas SilentBarker supplies preliminary warnings, GSSAP satellites are extra for investigative functions. They will maneuver near different satellites in GEO and collect extra info. 

A brand new constellation for GEO surveillance

Wanting forward, the Area Drive not too long ago issued a request for info for trade capabilities to develop GSSAP-like satellites able to detecting, monitoring and characterizing objects working in and across the GEO belt.

A future constellation would encompass free-flying satellites outfitted with electro-optical sensors, able to being refueled in orbit, and in a position to conduct rendezvous and proximity operations.

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