Delta IV blasts off with pair of military satellites
A United Launch Alliance Delta IV rocket blasted off at 12:52 a.m. Friday from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station,carrying a pair of military satellites designed to detect “space mines” and other potential threats to U.S. assets in orbit.
“The space domain has increasingly become congested, contested, and competitive,” Lt. Sarah Burnett, a spokeswoman for Air Force Space Command, said in an e-mail. “Some countries have clearly signaled their intent and ability to conduct hostile operations in space as an extension of the terrestrial battlefield.”
The two new satellites will join two already in orbit to form a belt that wraps around the equator more than 22,000 miles up. The satellites will monitor objects in the geosynchronous orbit keeping an eye out for any object that might threaten the American satellites in the belt.
“The first two GSSAP satellites have performed remarkably well,” Lt. Gen. Samuel Greaves, Space and Missile Systems commander and Air Force program executive officer for space said.
“These next two satellites will add to that capability and enable us to understand more completely things that occur in the geosynchronous orbit to a very high quality,” Greaves added. “It’s a key piece in the puzzle for space situational awareness.”