A high-power laser ship in the Pacific is targeting an American spy satellite, blinding its sensors, making one of the vital “heavenly eyes” of the United States impossible – one of the scenarios which military officials and civilian leaders fear could lead to escalation and wider conflict as rival nations such as China and Russia step up the development and deployment of weapons against satellites.
However, if a satellite were to be attacked, “we will take appropriate action,” depending on the circumstances, said Lt. Gen. John Shaw, Deputy Commander of U.S. Space Command.
What is U.S. Space Command?
The space battlefield is not a sci-fi site at all, and weapons against satellites are becoming a reality in armed conflicts in the not-too-distant future, Shaw said at the recent 36th Space Symposium in Colorado Springs.
US Space Command in charge a soldier i operations in outer space, which mesopause begins at the boundary of the Earth’s atmosphere, roughly at the Karman line, about 100 kilometers above the Earth’s surface. It is thus responsible for protecting American satellites from attack and developing response operations in the event of hostilities
Military spacecraft, such as satellites and ground systems, are generally considered “supporting” equipment. , which provide important services such as communication, navigation data and missile launch forecasting. However, as the Pentagon became increasingly dependent on space, satellites have become strategic tools and thus coveted targets for opponents.
“The importance of space-based systems for national security cannot be overemphasised,” said Frank Kendall, Minister in his keynote speech at the symposium. While General John Hyten, vice president of the United Chiefs of Staff, downright “likes to talk about satellites as“ big fat, juicy targets. ”
How to change that, how to make it harder for a potential opponent believes it could succeed in mutilating US space power, it was discussed at this symposium while Space Command developed the so-called space tactics doctrine.
A satellite blinding only a satellite an example of the type of attacks the United States must prepare for.
If this were to happen, the Department of Defense would have to decide how to respond to this threat. that the naval or air forces would be called in for retaliation. “We are only now beginning to address what space warfare really means,” said Shaw.
in competition “
The United States and its rival powers, The competition for space dominance between China and Russia has prompted the Trump administration and Congress to re-establish in 2019 the U.S. Space Command, which has been deactivated since 2002, and to establish the U.S. Space Force as a separate branch of service.
Kendall, who was inducted the civilian leader of the Air Force and Space Army in late July, said the United States was in “long-term strategic competition” with China. The implications for space are significant, he said, as “China has taken aggressive action to arm space.” said Kendall. Any type of escalation would lead to miscalculations and human error, so the space war is a “conflict that no one wants,” he said. against a satellite, they are secret. So far, they have spoken only once, with the Space Army announcing last year that it would use an advanced ground-based communications jammer manufactured by L3Harris that could be used as an “attack weapon” to disrupt enemy satellite transmissions.
Chris Kubasik, according to L3Harris Vice President and CEO, there is a need to raise awareness of the risks of a satellite attack if it triggers a wider conflict.
“I think this is the biggest threat our nation has to face” Kubasik said at the space symposium. A space war would be “detrimental to society” as satellites play a central role in everyday life for most people. “If we think about the impact on simple things like mobile phones, navigation, the supply chain, logistics, healthcare. I think this is a serious issue that should not be forgotten.”
Public awareness and ongoing education about the nation’s dependence on space is needed for the DoD to “get funding for an invisible war,” he said. Unlike conflicts on earth, space war is not easy to imagine. “Invisible warfare, with invisible means of warfare, is different than here on Earth, making it harder for humans to understand,” Kubasik said. is one of the most likely targets, said Travis Langster, vice president and general manager of Comspoc. By launching an electronic or cyber attack against a commercial satellite that the DoD uses for military operations, it is “trying to send a very specific message” as it does not draw a line between commercial and military spacecraft, so it comes up with a war message. (Military experts have been afraid for more than a decade that the first cyber war could break out at any time.)
According to Langster, the most likely scenario is a “reversible attack,” which means a temporary outage of a space-based service. “The first of today is likely to be a cyber attack.”
Carey Smith, CEO of defense and cyber security company Parsons, says space-based networks are already under attack.
“There is still disruption today; it is clear that the entire infrastructure is being hit by cyber attacks,” he said. This is because there have been a number of documented attempts to disrupt communications signals in war zones where U.S. forces were active.
The question, however, is whether these activities will escalate and lead to wider conflict. “I think the road to space warfare is actually based on a space arms race, and so far we’ve been fortunate to have been able to delay that, but it’s already imminent,” he added.
Smith said one of the main reasons is that technology is evolving extremely fast. The other reason is that there are no “binding commitments as to what the operational standards will be in space,” he said. “Without it, it is very likely that we will wage a space war.”
The basis of international space law
The treaty prohibits the stationing of weapons of mass destruction in outer space, prohibits military activities on celestial bodies, and contains legally binding rules for the peaceful exploration and use of space.
However, the current space age requires a new set of rules, Smith said. “We really haven’t addressed some very difficult issues. Can one nation follow another nation’s satellite? Will preventive self-defense be allowed? Will we ban any form of weapons in space?”
Frank Backes, the senior vice president of space and defense contractor Kratos also shared this view.
“We have already seen very deliberate intervention in regional conflicts to shut down military systems,” he said. The Pentagon is particularly concerned about the disruption of satellite communications networks used to operate unmanned surveillance aircraft. Drones rely on GPS and satellite communications systems to track and strike targets.
“These types of reversible effects have already entered the space sector, but I agree with Carrie Smith. it makes space a war zone, ”Backes said. “What this will look like in the future could have a devastating effect on the commercial and international use of space.”
The Minister of Defense ium wants a flexible space architecture
Experts point out that there are more and more ways to damage satellites permanently or temporarily, making it virtually impossible for the DoD to defend itself against a multitude of weapons.
China and Russia, for example, have direct take-off weapons that are launched on a suborbital orbit to hit a satellite in orbit. They also have co-orbital weapons, which are launched and later maneuvered towards the desired target.
According to the Center for Strategic and International Studies, China and Russia also use non-kinetic space weapons. These include lasers that can be used to temporarily interfere with or permanently blind satellite sensors, as well as devices that interfere with communications to or from satellites that interfere with noise at the same radio frequency.
In response to these threats, the United States States aim to make space networks more resilient by using a variety of satellites orbiting different orbits, making it more difficult for an adversary to launch an effective attack.
According to Kendall, flexibility “is not just about individual satellites, but on architecture “.
The DoD Space Development Agency would like to show what it hopes will be a more resilient space architecture. The agency is working to deploy a proliferated constellation of small satellites orbiting the Earth as an alternative to the traditional large, expensive spacecraft that the DoD traditionally flies on higher orbits, but in much smaller numbers.
“Moving away from the ‘ from juicy destinations, ” said Derek Tournear, director of the SDA. The essence of the proliferated architecture is to have enough satellites in orbit to “handle dropouts.”
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