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Space Force Just Launched Satellites Capable of 'Inspecting' Enemy Satellites

mardi 25 janvier 2022, 04:30 , par Slashdot
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Drive: Space Force launched two additional satellites today as part of its push for greater Space Domain Awareness, or SDA, in geosynchronous orbit some 22,000 miles away from Earth. The two satellites are part of the Geosynchronous Space Situational Awareness Program, or GSSAP, and will allow Space Force to not only locate and identify objects in this distant orbit, but also maneuver close to them in order to inspect them or assess their capabilities. The launch comes as Space Force leadership continues to sound the alarm about the risks posed to U.S. satellites in orbit.

The Northrop Grumman-built GSSAP-5 and GSSAP-6 were launched today at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida atop a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V 511 rocket. The first two GSSAP satellites were launched in 2014, with the second two following in 2016. Space Force has not released any details about how these two new GSSAP satellites might differ from the previous four, which were designed to operate near the belt of other geosynchronous satellites and maneuver close to them to conduct surveillance. A spokesperson for Space Systems Command stated this week that the new GGSAP satellites 'will provide improved SDA data to the National Space Defense Center and other national users to enhance our ability to navigate freely and safely within the GEO belt.'

GSSAP-5 and GSSAP-6 were originally scheduled to be launched in 2020, and it is not known why the launch was delayed almost two years. The GSSAP program was originally highly classified and was only revealed to the public in 2014. While the exact capabilities of the satellites are not public, it's known that they are able to capture close-up images of other satellites in geosynchronous orbit. Former Commander of Air Force Space Command Gen. William Shelton (Ret.) told Aviation Week in 2014 that the satellites are designed to drift in and out of the geosynchronous belt collecting intelligence on specific targets. The Air Force has previously used one of the satellites for Remote Proximity Operations (RPO), maneuvering close enough to inspect another Department of Defense satellite operated by the Navy that was experiencing a malfunction. The former head of Air Force Space Command, General John Hyten (Ret.), has previously said the satellites are capable of capturing some 'truly eye-watering' imagery.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.
https://tech.slashdot.org/story/22/01/24/232254/space-force-just-launched-satellites-capable-of-insp...

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