Secure World Foundation Releases 2022 Global Counterspace Capabilities: An Open Source Assessment

BROOMFIELD, Colo. (SWF PR) — The Secure World Foundation (SWF) is proud to announce the release of its annual report, “Global Counterspace Capabilities: An Open Source Assessment.” Edited by SWF Director of Program Planning Brian Weeden and Washington Office Director Victoria Samson, this report compiles and assesses publicly available information on the counterspace capabilities being developed by multiple countries across five categories: direct-ascent, co-orbital, electronic warfare, directed energy, and cyber. It assesses the current and near-term future capabilities for each country, along with their potential military utility. 

The full 2022 report and the Executive Summary, along with previous year’s editions, can be found at:  http://www.swfound.org/counterspace

Translations of the 2022 Executive Summary into French, Spanish, Russian, and Chinese will be available in May.

On Wednesday, April 20, 2022, from 09:00 – 10:30 EDT, SWF will co-host a hybrid event with experts from the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) to discuss their respective 2022 reports. More information about the event and RSVP can be found here: https://www.csis.org/events/tracking-developments-counterspace-weapons.

This is the fifth annual edition of the report, which is released in tandem with a similar report by CSIS. The 2022 edition of the report adds new developments through February 2022, adds three new countries to the report (Australia, South Korea, and the United Kingdom), and reorganizes the report to highlight those countries that have created orbital debris through counterspace testing.

Report: China Has Developed an Operational Space Tug

Breaking Defense has an interesting report about China developing satellite servicing capabilities:

China’s SJ-21 satellite now “appears to be functioning as a space tug,” pulling a dead CompassG2, or Beidou, navigation satellite out of the way of other satellites operating in the heavily populated Geosynchronous Orbit, according to a new analysis by commercial space monitoring firm ExoAnalytic Solutions.

The observations were reported today by Brien Flewelling, who serves as the firm’s chief architect for space situational awareness (SSA), during a webinar hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) and Secure World Foundation (SWF).

According to Flewelling’s video presentation, the SJ-21 on Jan. 22 went “missing” from its orbital slot for a few hours, after performing what are known as “close proximity operations,” moving closer and closer around the Compass G2. The “gap” in observations was caused by the fact that when it then docked with the defunct satellite, it was daytime — when telescopes cannot image. ExoAnalytics tracked it down after it had subsequently performed “a large maneuver” pulling the dead satellite out of GEO.

SWF Releases Updated Fact Sheets on Anti-Satellite Testing, Rendezvous and Proximity Operations, and the X-37B

BROOMFIELD, Colo. (SWF PR) — The recent resurgence in anti-satellite (ASAT) testing in space and growth in robotic rendezvous and proximity operations (RPOs) conducted for military and intelligence purposes have generated concerns from many countries about the increasingly contested nature of space. While many RPO activities are not directly aggressive or destructive themselves, they can lead to misconceptions or heightened tensions that could negatively impact space security and stability.  Additionally, destructive ASAT tests have created thousands of pieces of orbital debris over the last several decades, which can pose long-term risks to all space activities.

(more…)

SWF Releases New Fact Sheets on Robotic RPOs for Military and Intelligence Purposes by Multiple Countries

BROOMFIELD, Colo. (SWF PR) — Rendezvous and proximity operations (RPO) technologies enable a wide range of capabilities to support civil and commercial space activities such as on-orbit inspections, repair, refueling, assembly, and life extension. RPO capabilities can also be used for military and intelligence space activities such as intelligence, surveillance, and offensive weapons such as co-orbital anti-satellites.

While RPO technologies have long been a stable of human spaceflight activities, over the last twenty years robotic RPO capabilities have developed and grown in use, including for national security. While many RPO activities are no directly aggressive or destructive themselves, they can lead to misconceptions or heightened tensions that could negatively impact space security and stability. 

(more…)

SWF Releases New Fact Sheets on Anti-satellite Testing in Space by Multiple Countries

BROOMFIELD, Colo. (SWF PR) — Over the last fifteen years there has been a resurgence of anti-satellite (ASAT) testing in space by multiple countries. During the Cold War between 1960 and 1991, the United States and the Soviet Union conducted dozens of tests of both direct ascent and co-orbital ASAT weapons, some of which destroyed satellites and created hundreds of pieces of orbital debris.

After a brief pause, ASAT testing in space resumed in the mid-2000s and since then China, India, Russia, and the United States have all tested either direct ascent or co-orbital ASAT weapons, some of which again have destroyed satellites and created thousands of pieces of orbital debris.

(more…)

A Summary of U.S. Counterspace Capabilities

Global Counterspace Capabilities:
An Open Source Assessment

Secure World Foundation
April 2020

Full Report

The following excerpt from the report summarizes U.S. counterspace capabilities.

The United States has conducted multiple tests of technologies for rendezvous and proximity operations (RPO) in both low Earth orbit (LEO) and geosynchronous Earth orbit (GEO), along with tracking, targeting, and intercept technologies that could lead to a co-orbital anti-satellite (ASAT) capability.

These tests and demonstrations were conducted for other non-offensive missions, such as missile defense, on-orbit inspections, and satellite servicing, and the United States does not have an acknowledged program to develop co-orbital capabilities. However, the United States possesses the technological capability to develop a co-orbital capability in a short period of time if it chooses to.

(more…)