LONG BEACH, Calif. – Urgent action is needed to ensure that Earth orbit continues to be a safe place in which to operate. And industry must take the lead because governments are moving far too slowly to address an increasingly serious problem.
That was the consensus of the panel of experts that debated the issue during last week’s Space Tech Expo. They expressed concerns about the growing number of large satellite constellations and the enormous amount of dangerous debris already in orbit.
Josef Koller, co-founder of the Space Safety Institute, said space is now a fully international arena no longer dominated by a handful of international nations. The figures laid out by Koller and his fellow panelists demonstrated how much more crowded Earth orbit has become:
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.
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.
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.
Thierry Breton European Union Commissioner for Internal Market
As the European Union Commissioner in charge of EU Space policy and in particular of Galileo & Copernicus, I join the strongest condemnations expressed against the test conducted by Russia on Monday 15 Nov., which led to the destruction of a satellite in low orbit (COSMOS 1408).
This anti-satellite weapon test has caused the generation of a significant amount of debris of a size that could endanger the European Union’s space activities as well as those of our Member States.
Content based on interviews with nearly two dozen industry and defense leaders
Report determines that space domain partnerships are central to national security
Countries are realigning defense organizations to recognize the importance of space
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo., Aug. 17, 2021 (Space Foundation PR) — Space Foundation, a nonprofit advocate organization founded in 1983 for the global space ecosystem, in partnership with KPMG International, today released a new report exploring how space will define the future of national security. The report “Navigating Space: A Vision for Space in Defense,” finds that space will likely define the future of national security and as the pace of innovation quickens, defense organizations see space domain partnerships as central to their national security.
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.
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.
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.
The following excerpts from the report summarize Japan’s counterspace capabilities.
Japan has long been a well-established space actor and its space activities have historically been entirely non-military in nature. In 2008, Japan made a change to its constitution to enable national security-related activities in space and more recently, government officials have begun to publicly speak about developing various counterspace capabilities or developing military SSA capacity.
The following excerpt from the report summarizes France’s counterspace capabilities.
While France has long had a space program, as well as military satellites, it was not until very recently that France had an explicit focus on offensive and defensive counterspace capabilities.
The major change occurred in July 2019 with the release of the first French Space Defense Strategy, which elevated French military space organization and reassigned control of French military satellites from the French space agency to the military.
The following excerpts from the report summarize India”s growing counterspace programs and its anti-satellite (ASAT) weapons tests in 2019.
India has over five decades of experience with space capabilities, but most of that has been civil in focus. It is only in the past several years that India has started organizationally making way for its military to become active users and creating explicit military space capabilities.
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.
The following excerpt from the report summarizes China’s counterspace capabilities.
The evidence strongly indicates that China has a sustained effort to develop a broad range of counterspace capabilities. China has conducted multiple tests of technologies for rendezvous and proximity operations (RPO) in both low earth orbit (LEO) and geosynchronous orbit (GEO) that could lead to a co-orbital ASAT capability.
The following excerpt from the report summarizes Russia’s counterspace capabilities.
There is strong evidence that Russia has embarked on a set of programs over the last decade to regain many of its Cold War-era counterspace capabilities. Since 2010, Russia has been testing technologies for rendezvous and proximity operations (RPO) in both low Earth orbit 9LEO) and geosynchronous Earth orbit (GEO) that could lead to or support a co-orbital anti-satellite (ASAT) capability. Evidence suggests at least two active programs: a new co-orbital ASAT program called Burevestnik that is potentially supported by a surveillance and tracking program called Nivelir.
by Director of Program Planning Brian Weeden and Washington Office Director Victoria Samson Secure World Foundation
Over the last several years, there has been growing concern from multiple governments over the reliance on vulnerable space capabilities for national security, and the corresponding proliferation of offensive counterspace capabilities that could be used to disrupt, deny the use of, degrade, or destroy space systems.
This in turn has led to increased rhetoric from some countries about the need to prepare for future conflicts on Earth to extend into space, and calls from some corners to increase the development of offensive counterspace capabilities and put in place more aggressive policies and postures.