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Military Satellites Of The United States

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Last Updated: 02 July 2021

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In 1978, Adm. Stansfield Turner, then head of the Central Intelligence Agency, said that Russians could kill the US in Space. Turner was referring to the Soviet Unions kinetic anti-Satellite weapons Program. In other words, Soviet military could shoot down US Satellites in orbit with missiles. Today, there are even more sophisticated threats to US and ally space systems, and WASHINGTON should decide how to respond. The United States began viewing space as a contested domain in the early 1960s. Due to Soviet threat, Pentagon developed kinetic space weapons programs like the F-15-launch Miniature Homing Vehicle. The space operating environment has changed since the end of the Cold War. There are considerably more spacefaring nations and some of these actors have increasingly capable anti-Satellite weapons. Additionally, global economy now depends on safe use of space. WASHINGTON should not, however, reinvigorate its former kinetic space weapons programs to address threats to its satellites. Use of kinetic space weapons during conflict would create an enormous amounts of debris that would harm space systems that the United States needs for precision targeting, early warning, navigation, communications, and other critical functions. Charles Powell has persuasively argued that debris, which can remain in orbit for years, is one of the most serious threats to satellites. Not all space weapons are created equal. The US military should focus on development of non-kinetic systems that can disarm adversary satellites without physically destroying them. If the United States must hit back due to an attack on space systems, it can do so using non-kinetic capabilities or kinetic response in another domain. Targeting Command and control facilities on ground using kinetic and non-kinetic weapons could negate adversary space capabilities without creating debris that would threaten American, allied, and neutral space systems. To prevent creation of even more debris, WASHINGTON should also work with other spacefaring nations to establish a moratorium on testing kinetic weapons against objects in Space. During the Cold War, United States was torn between competing priorities relating to space remaining sanctuary and developing anti-Satellite weapons. Some policymakers want to keep space safe for reconnaissance, in addition to non-military purposes. Other officials, however, want to be able to shoot down Soviet military satellites. Less than six months after the Soviet Union launched the Sputnik Satellite, National Security Council adopted NSC 5802 / 1, which calls for vigorous research into anti-Satellite systems. In October 1959, United States conducted its first successful anti-Satellite weapons test. The missile came within four nautical miles of the US Explorer Satellite, which was deemed close enough to have demonstrated sufficient accuracy. In conflict, missile would utilize nuclear warhead, creating an enormous amount of debris. President John F. Kennedy was convinced that the United States needed to be able to deter aggression against US National Security satellites. In May 1961, Kennedy instructed Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara to develop the anti-Satellite Program at the earliest practicable time.

* Please keep in mind that all text is machine-generated, we do not bear any responsibility, and you should always get advice from professionals before taking any actions.

* Please keep in mind that all text is machine-generated, we do not bear any responsibility, and you should always get advice from professionals before taking any actions

Satellite quick facts

The first artificial satellite was called Sputnik 1. It was launched in 1957 by the Soviet Union. The Sputnik was a small aluminum ball, about the size of a beach ball, with four long antennas and powered by batteries. Inside Sputnik were radio transmitters that sent out beep, beep sounds that were heard all over the world. Sputnik only transmitted signals for about three weeks, but this small and simple satellite marks the beginning of the Space Age. Soon after, Sputnik 2 carried the first living passenger into orbit, dog named Laika. In 1958, United States launched its first satellite, Explorer 1. A year later, NASA's Explorer 6 sent the first satellite pictures of Earth, and by 1962, first orbiting satellite provided long-term service to Earth. Since that time, number of satellites and their complexity has continued to increase. Since 1957, more than 8 000 satellites from more than 50 countries have been launch. Today, about 3 600 man-make satellites remain in orbit, with about 1 000 of them currently functioning. If you go outside on a clear night and see a bright light speeding across the sky, it may well be a satellite reflecting light of the Sun.

* Please keep in mind that all text is machine-generated, we do not bear any responsibility, and you should always get advice from professionals before taking any actions.

* Please keep in mind that all text is machine-generated, we do not bear any responsibility, and you should always get advice from professionals before taking any actions

Pavel Podvig

In recent years, Russia and China have urged negotiation of the International Treaty to prevent arms racing in outer space. The United States has responded by insisting that existing treaties and rules governing use of space are sufficient. The standoff has produced a six-year deadlock in Geneva at the United Nations Conference on Disarmament, but parties have not been inactive. Russia and China have much to lose if the United States were to pursue Space Weapons programs laid out in its Military planning documents. This makes probable eventual formulation of responses that are adverse to the broad range of US interests in Space. The Chinese Anti-Satellite test in January 2007 was prelude to an unfolding drama in which the main act is still subject to revision. If the United States continues to pursue weaponization of space, how will China and Russia respond, and what will the broader implications for International Security be? The American Academy called upon two scholars to further elucidate answers to these questions and to discuss the consequences of US Military plans for Space. Pavel Podvig, research associate at the Center for International Security and Cooperation at Stanford University and former researcher at Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology, discusses possible Russian responses, giving their current capabilities and Strategic outlook. Hui Zhang, research associate at John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, considers Chinese responses. Each scholar suggests that introducing weapons into Space will have negative consequences for nuclear proliferation and International Security. As Podvig points out, Russia's main concern is likely to be maintaining strategic parity with the United States. This parity will be destroyed by the Deployment of Weapons in Space, making a response from Russia likely. Podvig suggests that Russia does not have many options for development of its own weapon systems in Space but is likely to react to US development of Space Weapons through other countermeasures, such as extending the life of its Ballistic missiles. Podvig describes such measures as the most significant and dangerous global effects of new Military developments, whether Missile Defense or Space-base Weapons. Zhang arrived at similar conclusions. He describes how US Military plans for Space will negatively affect peaceful Uses of outer Space, disrupting civilian and commercial initiatives, but he focuses his discussion on much greater concern among Chinese officials that actions by the United States in Space will result in loss of Strategic nuclear parity. China's options for response, as detailed by Zhang, include building more ICBMs, adopting countermeasures against Missile Defense, developing ASAT Weapons, and reconsidering China's commitments to Arms Control. Thus, US decision to introduce weapons into Space would destabilize the already vulnerable International nonproliferation regime. Zhang concludes, US Space weaponization plans would have potentially disastrous effects on International Security and peaceful use of outer Space. This would not benefit any country's security interests.

* Please keep in mind that all text is machine-generated, we do not bear any responsibility, and you should always get advice from professionals before taking any actions.

* Please keep in mind that all text is machine-generated, we do not bear any responsibility, and you should always get advice from professionals before taking any actions

Sources

* Please keep in mind that all text is machine-generated, we do not bear any responsibility, and you should always get advice from professionals before taking any actions.

* Please keep in mind that all text is machine-generated, we do not bear any responsibility, and you should always get advice from professionals before taking any actions

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