The Pentagon is investing to protect its ‘space real estate’
The Washington Post is reporting that the United States has begun to invest billions of dollars to bolster its space defense systems to protect sensitive national security satellites.
The wake up call came in 2010, when a Chinese rocket reached an orbit of 22,000 miles away. That is the same distance where the U.S. parks some of it’s most important satellites that carry out tasks like guiding precision bombs and spying on adversaries.
If China continues to make strides and develops weapons, it could one day threaten key US satellites in geosynchronous orbit in what Air Force Gen. John Hyten in an interview called the “most valuable real estate in space.”
“If satellites are knocked out, even temporarily, it could have serious consequences on the military’s ability to operate effectively,” said Bill Ostrove, a space systems analyst at Forecast International.
“There are a few different ways that a satellite could be disabled that the United States is afraid of. The most obvious way is to launch a missile into space that targets a satellite,” Ostrove said. “The United States has a legitimate fear of anti-satellite weapons.”
Because of this threat, defense officials are developing ways to protect exposed satellites in orbit, enabling them to withstand jamming efforts and other threats. In the future, they also plan to send smaller satellites into orbit that are much more difficult to target.
Defense officials are also concerned about hostilities extending into space. Russia and China have developed key technologies that could one day make a ‘space war’ a real possibility.
“We must recognize that despite our efforts, a future conflict may start, or extend, into space,” Navy Adm. Cecil Haney, commander of the U.S. Strategic Command, told the Post.