Author Topic: NASA, Space programs, US Space Force (China and others too)  (Read 32875 times)


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ET: Assume China looking to militarize the moon
« Reply #103 on: January 13, 2023, 10:51:39 AM »
I am reminded of Robert Heinlein's "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress"  wherein rebel colonist lobbed rocks at earth with the impact having the effect of nuclear bombs or something like that.

China May Place Weapons on the Moon to Counter US and Allies, Expert Warns
By Hannah Ng and Tiffany Meier January 11, 2023

As the United States and China are racing to resume sending astronauts to the moon, China might militarize the lunar surface as Beijing sets to establish a permanent presence there, warns Rick Fisher, senior fellow with the International Assessment and Strategy Center.

“So if the PLA [People’s Liberation Army] is going to the moon, the PLA is very likely going to be bringing military capabilities to the moon. And they’ll probably not hesitate to use those military capabilities if there is a conflict with the United States or another country among many that are planning to put assets on the moon,” Fisher told the “China in Focus” program on NTD, the sister media outlet of The Epoch Times.

“China’s space program, its entire space program, is controlled by the People’s Liberation Army and is designed almost entirely to produce dual-use military benefits for the People’s Liberation Army,” he added.

China Reveals Date of First Manned Moon Mission: Rick Fisher on This Year’s Zhuhai Airshow
China Reveals Date of First Manned Moon Mission: Rick Fisher on This Year’s Zhuhai Airshow | China in Focus (NTD)
Limit Access to Resources
In this second moon race, the United States and China will compete for strategic positions and secure access to resources, according to Fisher.

“Space technology has advanced to the point where we can consider accessing the moon both economically and for real profit. We can use water on the moon to produce oxygen and use resources, metals, and other materials, minerals on the moon, to build things, to build an infrastructure, perhaps to build spaceships to go to Mars, or to build large solar energy gathering satellites that will be put in cislunar,” he said.

He expressed concerns that the Chinese regime might try to limit access to the moon’s resource-rich areas from the United States, citing the recent warning from NASA Administrator Bill Nelson.

“NASA director Nelson in an interview … with Politico, made clear his fears that once China gets to the moon, it will act in an imperialistic manner, it will claim territory and deny access to that territory to others,” the expert said.

Nelson sounded the alarm about Beijing’s misconduct, citing China’s actions in the South China Sea, a contested region where the communist regime has unlawfully constructed a network of artificial islands with military installations.

Push Back Threats
Fisher pointed to the Outer Space Treaty as a guide to behavior on the moon, as both China and the United States are signatories.

“But China has a very poor record of adhering to agreements even if it signed on to those agreements, even if it ratified agreements. So any Chinese statement or agreement that it does not intend to militarize the moon has to be taken with deep skepticism,” he noted.

Thus, he called on the United States to be very careful and keep track of China’s activities on the moon.

“And we have every right to expect that China will be transparent about its activities on the moon,” Fisher said.

He urged Washington to encourage more countries to sign on to the Artemis Accords, initiated under the Trump administration, seeking to establish a common framework to guide responsible space exploration.

Up to now, at least 21 countries have been part of the treaty, but China has refused to join.

“Based on resource extraction on the moon energy generation, we should encourage as many countries as possible to sign on to the Artemis Accords and join all of the other countries that have pledged to a program of peaceful behavior,” Fisher said.

“That would be our first defense if you will have a peaceful future for the moon,” he added.

“But secondly, we should also be prepared. We should have in reserve the means to send to the moon equipment that could defend our people and the means to identify quickly what China is doing on the moon should we detect any placement of weapons.”

Fisher pointed out that it is “critically important for the United States to sustain funding for its moon program” despite any threat on Earth imposed by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), such as launching an invasion against Taiwan or India.

In 2010, then-President Barack Obama canceled former President George W. Bush’s Constellation moon program.

“Because the Chinese Communist Party’s plan for hegemony on Earth requires hegemony in space. And if the United States were to cancel its moon program again, as did President Obama, we would be, in short, helping to ensure that China gains hegemony on Earth by helping it to gain hegemony in space,” Fisher said.


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Latin America in the US-China Space Race
« Reply #107 on: March 23, 2023, 07:12:52 PM »
March 22, 2023
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Latin America in the US-China Space Race
Partnerships and strategic locations are in high demand.
By: Allison Fedirka

Next week, Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and his science and technology minister will be in China to negotiate the construction of a new satellite. They want the satellite for climate observation and to monitor deforestation in the Amazon. Brazil and China have more than two decades of history working together on satellites, but this potential project takes place in a very different geopolitical context than past dealings. Space has emerged as a serious battleground in the U.S.-China rivalry, and Washington is sensitive to any Latin American space collaborations involving Beijing. Anxious about security risks in its own hemisphere, the U.S. has only recently emphasized space cooperation with its southern neighbors.

Situational Awareness

Space is a critical domain for national defense. Businesses and militaries worldwide depend on satellites for information and communications. A few countries – the United States, China, Russia, Japan, the United Kingdom, Canada, France, Germany and, arguably, India – boast robust space programs with military applications. Historically, the Americans are the dominant player in space, but thanks to massive public investment the Chinese are quickly catching up. For the rest, partnerships are essential to overcome the immense technical and financial challenges.

First, a primer. The space domain includes terrestrial, orbital and link segments. Fixed, secure ground locations are required to monitor space activity and communicate with hardware in orbit. Ground stations support telemetry, tracking and command of satellite and spacecraft operations. However, ground stations can’t communicate with satellites when large objects – the Earth, for example – get in the way. Instead, states need a global network to maintain space situational awareness. This includes the detection and tracking of launched and orbital objects, threat assessments, and data integration and exploitation. Situational awareness enables warfighters to predict the future location of space objects and the overall operational environment. The broader the satellite and observation network, the more complete the coverage. Therefore, interstate cooperation is critical, and it presents opportunities for regions like Latin America to accrue the funding and expertise to develop their own space capabilities.

Information Mobility for Space Operations
(click to enlarge)

National space programs in Latin America are more than 60 years old, but funding has always been a problem. Prior to the pandemic, the U.S. government allocated $22.7 billion to space programs, while Brazil, Argentina and Mexico together spent roughly $100 million. Until fairly recently, space was not a priority in the region. China’s emergence in the sector, combined with the falling cost of launching a satellite, helped change this. Vast borders are ripe for smuggling, while remote areas are difficult to monitor for illegal mining or deforestation. Satellites would boost governments’ abilities to secure their borders and enforce the law within them.

China was quick to develop space partnerships in the Western Hemisphere. Determined to become a leading space power, Beijing targeted middle-income countries for partnerships and leveraged its technology and expertise through commercial agreements. Moreover, ground stations close to the equator provide more robust satellite coverage, making South America even more attractive. Today, China operates or can access a series of space observation centers across South America.

Chinese Satellite Ground Stations in Latin America
(click to enlarge)

Beijing’s growing footprint in the Latin American space sector triggered alarm in Washington. The U.S. worries that China could use the proximity of its space facilities to spy on U.S. communications. There is hardly any daylight between civilian or commercial space research and military applications, especially in the Chinese case. (For example, GPS is useful whether you are trying to pinpoint a local restaurant or armed insurgents.) Latin American governments have few problems with this, given their own interest in the technology’s contributions to national security. For instance, Brazil’s national defense strategy promotes heavy use of satellites to monitor the border. Although its satellite negotiations with China will center on deforestation, the areas of interest significantly overlap with Brazil’s military interests.

Washington Joins the Race

The U.S. strategy for countering China’s ambitions for space in Latin America started to take shape last year. Last summer, U.S. Southern Command and the Space Force’s Space Training and Readiness Command hosted their first Latin America Space Doctrine Conference, intended to incorporate space into the U.S. security cooperation framework for the region. Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Peru and Uruguay attended. A second conference in January 2023 attracted 11 Latin American countries. Washington hopes to convince Latin American states to adopt U.S. standards and procedures so that they can share information – and shut China out. It has highlighted the immediate payoffs of cooperation, such as access to information to counter illegal logging, mining and fishing, as well as crop monitoring. Eventually, the U.S. says it wants to conduct large-scale space-based exercises with Latin American militaries, which China has never done.

Alignments in much of the region are practically settled. Venezuela and Bolivia are firmly in China’s camp, while traditional U.S. security allies Colombia, Chile and Peru are sticking with Washington. The current focus of the U.S.-Chinese competition for space partnerships is the southernmost part of South America. The Southern Cone countries, along with Mexico, have the most advanced space programs, and their alignments will shape security in the Antarctic region. A presence there is important to keep the Strait of Magellan and the Drake Passage free and clear for navigation.

By far the most prized relationship is with Brazil, the Latin American country with the most advanced space program. Brazil is well positioned to monitor most of the South Atlantic and hosts the Alcantara Space Center, the closest launching base to the equator. Five years ago, the U.S. and Brazil signed an agreement to share information about known space objects, including Brazilian satellites. They also discussed a deal to permit the U.S. to launch satellites from Alcantara. Some of the Space Force’s first international outreach efforts in 2020 involved discussions with Brazil about opportunities to collaborate. Not to be outdone, China has leveraged its decades-old relationship with Brazil in satellite development and launches as well as telecommunications.

After Brazil, Chile was the next Latin American country that U.S. Southern Command engaged in direct space talks. China leases some facilities at the Santiago Satellite Station in Chile, but the station’s operator, the Swedish Space Corp., has said it will not renew the contracts. The U.S. will probably fill the void. Meanwhile, Argentina hosts China’s most important space observation facility in the region. The secretive Espacio Lejano station in Neuquen is owned and operated by China; even the Argentine government’s access is restricted. The intelligence community assumes China conducts both scientific and military activity there.

Mexico is the exception to the U.S.-China competition for space partnerships. Mexico is too close to the U.S. to form a strong partnership with China, but space is too sensitive for Mexico to depend on the United States. Therefore, Mexico has advocated the creation of a Latin American and Caribbean space agency. A regional grouping to pool resources makes sense for Mexico – and many countries have signed on – but funding and the huge technological disparities between members remain obstacles. Mexico will likely have to give the U.S. major concessions to secure a partnership, or accept that it will trail its regional peers


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China Brazil. Lulu is of party of left but reportedly more moderate
« Reply #108 on: March 24, 2023, 06:31:06 AM »
something seemingly we should intervene

why can't they get their weather satellite's from us?

rather then CCP

we need to send our delegation down to meet lulu

if he promises to nix the Chinese satellite deal he would get a free chopper :

  diplomacy does not need to be  hard


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If we don't change course, we are going to lose fast.
« Reply #112 on: June 06, 2023, 03:10:25 AM »
China's Space Program: Designed to Defeat the United States
by Lawrence A. Franklin  •  June 6, 2023 at 5:00 am

Far more significant than scoring space spectaculars, however, is the question of which nation will achieve military dominance in the domain of near-earth space. Chinese international media deceitfully stresses the peaceful, cooperative, and scientific nature of its national space program. However, the ambitious nature of China's space program indicates that Beijing's primary objective is to dominate near earth space.

China's PLA is openly preparing for war, particularly in areas where Beijing's territorial and maritime claims are illegal and hegemonic.

The aggressive nature of China's space program is particularly obvious in its anti-satellite projects.

The proximity of these Chinese anti-satellite vehicles clearly reveals the mission to degrade and/or blind collection and transmission of intelligence data by US systems. Another Chinese anti-satellite project features a satellite with a grappling hook, designed to capture US satellites as an immediate prelude to war.

Beijing is planning to win a war in space as part of its reported overall objective of replacing the US as the dominant power on earth. One assessment estimates that fully 84% of China's space launches are military in nature -- indicating that the CCP may well be determined to emerge as the only remaining superpower.

It will also most likely be in the dimension of space, as well as biowarfare, that mankind will get a tip-off that a major armed conflict is about to breakout between China and the United States. China at present not only has "killer satellites," but also reportedly: "Beijing also has rapidly developed an array of space warfare capabilities, including several types of ground-launched anti-satellite missiles capable of hitting satellites in different orbits; ground-based lasers that can blind or damage orbiting satellites; and small robotic satellites capable of maneuvering and grabbing orbiting satellites."

China will most likely attempt to shut down US intelligence collection, "eyes and ears in the sky," prior to combat operations on earth. The United States, if an impending military clash seems unavoidable, may be forced to "preemptively retaliate" by disabling China's intelligence collection and data transmission space-based assets – if it can.

"f the U.S. military doesn't change course... we're going to lose fast" — Air Force Lt. Gen. S. Clinton Hinote, the deputy chief of staff for strategy, integration and requirements,, March 11, 2021.

It seems high time that the US increased its defense budget instead of cutting it, prepositioned arms in Taiwan for deterrence, and got serious about acknowledging the Chinese Communist Party, led by President Xi Jinping, not as a "competitor," but as an adversary, and an intractable one at that.


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China WAY ahead
« Reply #114 on: July 03, 2023, 05:10:44 AM »

Space Force arsenal falls dangerously short to defend U.S. against China, Russia


The Space Force needs new offensive weapons and more sophisticated defenses to counter China’s rapid deployment of multiple space arms that would pose major dangers for the U.S. military in a conflict, according to an extensive study.

The report, published by the Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies on June 26, found that, unlike China, the U.S. military largely shunned the idea of deploying space weapons after the end of the Cold War.

“The United States must take urgent action to respond to this mounting threat or risk losing its ability to deter Chinese aggression and maintain peace in key regions around the globe,” the report states.

It warns that the Biden administration’s renewed emphasis on diplomacy and engagement to seek norms of space behavior will not be enough to deter confl ict with Beijing. China views the vulnerability of U.S. satellites as its strategic advantage.

“U.S. combatant commanders should have a wide range of options for offensive counterspace operations to defeat spaceenabled attacks in the event of a major conflict with China,” the report states.

The report stops short of calling directly for deploying ground-based antisatellite missiles, similar to those fielded by China and Russia. Instead, the Space Force should be equipped with weapons that can “responsibly” attack or disable Chinese satellites without creating major fields of orbiting debris.

Recommended weapons include ground-based and space-based lasers,

jammers and other directed energy systems, as well as better defenses for satellites, such as larger fuel tanks that increase the ability to maneuver away from space threats.

The report was written by retired Space Force Col. Charles Galbreath, a former command space operator who until recently was deputy chief technology and innovation officer at Space Force headquarters.

“Russia and China have developed counterspace capabilities specifically to attack U.S. space systems,” Col. Galbreath told The Washington Times. “The U.S. must be prepared to respond in a credible and proportional manner. Ongoing efforts to establish norms of responsible behavior, improve space domain awareness, and increase resilience are all necessary, but insufficient at deterring our potential adversaries from attacking our space capabilities.”

The report warned that additional debris in space could produce a cascading series of collisions of satellites in low-Earth orbit known as the Kessler syndrome, named after astrophysicist Donald J. Kessler. A Chinese anti-satellite (ASAT) missile test in 2007 created a huge field of high-speed orbiting debris that threatens spacecraft, as did a more recent Russian ASAT test.

Last year, the Biden administration announced a unilateral imposition moratorium on ASAT missile tests that can cause space debris. China and Russia have refused to impose similar moratoriums.

“China and Russia have a history of rejecting the West’s call for space norms and limits while putting forward their own selfserving versions,” the report said.

Despite the growth of Chinese and Russian space arsenals, the 4-year-old U.S. Space Force has just one known weapon: an electronic jammer called the Counter Communications System. The jammer can interrupt some Chinese military systems, the report said.

China has built an array of offensive space weapons that include ground-launched missiles capable of hitting U.S. satellites in all orbits, satellites with robotic arms that can maneuver and crush satellites, lasers and jammers that can disrupt or damage satellites, and advanced cyberweapons capable of targeting satellites and their ground links.

The report notes that the Space Force jammer “alone will not effectively protect U.S. space capabilities, nor does it have the capacity to hold the increasing number of Chinese space capabilities at risk. Responsible counterspace campaigning will require more.”

A Space Force spokeswoman declined to comment on the report.

“But,” she said, “I’d like to emphasize that weapon systems, for the Space Force and other services, are not inherently offensive or defensive. While the Space Force prefers that space remain free of conflict, we’re committed to protecting U.S. space capabilities and defending the joint force from space-enabled attack.”

Gen. B. Chance Saltzman, chief of operations, told Congress in April that the Space Force plans to deploy a “substantial” military counterspace system by 2026.

The Mitchell Institute report said a single counterspace weapon will not be enough to address “the scope and magnitude of threats and potential targets that are now confronting the Space Force.”

In the opening days of their 2022 invasion of Ukraine, Russian forces used cyberspace and radio frequency attacks to block Ukraine from accessing satellite communications and GPS navigation.

China’s kinetic and non-kinetic space weapons were developed after 2001. While the Pentagon was focused for nearly two decades on the war on terrorism, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army deployed multiple offensive weapons targeting U.S. and allied satellites.

“These fielded weapons include ground-based electronic warfare, directed energy, and kinetic [anti-satellite] missile systems,” the report said. “They also demonstrated technologies related to on-orbit counterspace weapons.”

China has a different view of space warfare deterrence that includes, at a later stage of a crisis, “an over-awing space strike.” The attack could involve simultaneous attacks on multiple U.S. space systems with several types of weapons.

Chinese space arms include satellites equipped with powerful lasers or microwave guns that can disrupt satellites. Also a concern is the PLA’s orbiting hypersonic missile, known as a fractional orbital bombardment system, that can destroy ground targets. The system was tested two years ago.

“By attacking critical U.S. space systems, China could reduce the American military’s overall ability to see, communicate, navigate, project power and command and control its forces,” the report said. “The net result would be American soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, and Guardians at increased risk from attack and unable to prevent China from achieving its objectives.”

Chinese space attacks eliminating missile warning satellites and position, navigation and timing satellites would “have devastating, potentially decisive consequences for U.S. military operations,” the report said.

An even more powerful threat would unfold if China attacks the entire GPS constellation, the report said.

Destroying the GPS system would make military operations more difficult and damage a global economy reliant on GPS for the power grids, global banking networks and communications lines that enable the local, regional and international transit of goods.

Col. Galbreath, author of the study, said the United States must act quickly to develop and deploy counterspace systems.

“A U.S. failure to field counterspace capabilities will erode our deterrent posture and place our military at increased risk,” he said. “The United States did not want to be in this position, but the actions of Russia and China have led us to this reality and we must be prepared to respond.


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WT: Don't blow up Space Force's reliability standards
« Reply #115 on: July 03, 2023, 05:17:10 AM »

Don’t blow up Space Force’s reliability standards

Keeping National Security Space Launch program on schedule is crucial

By Nick Lampson

While promoting contractor inclusivity and competition is paramount, becoming all encompassing to the point of risking national security is not.

Unfortunately, by attempting to override the Space Force’s space procurement reliability standards, that is the position that some members of the Senate Armed Services Committee may risk putting the United States in, and the clock is ticking for Congress to rectify the committee’s mistakes.

The Space Force recognizes the need for contractor competition.

That’s why, when it released its February draft solicitation for bids for the National Security Space Launch program — the most important government program for fending off America’s adversaries in space — it opened a new section of the program for all space companies (even the one that can’t reach the nine reference orbits the Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center deems critical) to compete for federal contracts.

The only thing it didn’t do was open the door for these newer contractors that can’t yet meet those Air Force efficiency and operational benchmarks to service high-risk missions.

But that’s what some Senate Armed Services Committee members want it to do, and they haven’t shied away from making their position known.

After arguing with the government’s space experts over this issue in a May committee hearing, they wedged language into the National Defense Authorization Agreement at the end of June that would open bidding for highrisk missions to these higher-risk contractors — and the full Congress will consider passing that very bill any day now.

I have long been a strong proponent of increasing competition in the American space industry. I aggressively supported the bill that effectively stopped the government monopoly on space launches and created the modern era of private spaceflight competition. Our work in Congress led to nascent companies rising from scrappy upstarts to marquee companies.

That said, there is a time and a place for allowing new competitors to compete. In this case, some of the companies that would benefit from the Senate Armed Services Committee’s procurement change haven’t even completed their launch systems after years of delays, so no one knows how reliable they’ll be. America’s space and defense leaders have been clear: China is inching in on the United States’ space dominance. As such, any delays to the NSSL can lead to significant geopolitical issues for the U.S. in the years and decades to come. Lt. Gen. Nina M. Armagno, director of staff for the U.S. Space Force, recently warned that China’s “pacing threat” is accelerating and “continues to mature rapidly.” She cautioned that China “could catch up and surpass us, absolutely” because “the progress they’ve made has been stunning, stunningly fast.” The U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission has noted that “China is pursuing a broad and robust array of counterspace capabilities, which includes direct-ascent antisatellite missiles, co-orbital anti-satellite systems, computer network operations, ground-based satellite jammers, and directed energy weapons.”

For these reasons and more, the Space Force recognizes that keeping the NSSL on schedule is critically important. Congress should too.

Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall is right: The Space Force’s NSSL proposal “balanced a lot of competing things very well” — “[allowing] us to bring new entrants in fairly fluidly” while also “[giving] us assured access for the higher risk missions.”

The legislative branch shouldn’t tip the scales of this balance. It should listen to America’s defense leaders and safeguard America’s space program from China and other rogue actors.

Nick Lampson is a former Democratic con-gressman from Texas who served as ranking member of the House Space and Aeronautics Subcommittee


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D1: Space Force needs to define its own culture
« Reply #118 on: September 06, 2023, 07:37:31 AM »
The Space Force needs a brand-new culture of its own
It doesn’t do organized violence—and shouldn’t pretend that it does.
Paula Thornhill
SEPTEMBER 5, 2023 09:20 PM ET
The nearly-four-year-old Space Force has taken pains to emphasize its uniqueness as a military service, especially vis-à-vis the Air Force. Leaders have introduced new uniforms, organizational structure, fitness test, enlisted ranks, basic training, and professional military education. However, these initiatives are not meaningfully connected to a deeper, organizational culture. Such efforts will succeed only when Space Force leaders understand they are responsible for a new, different type of national security organization—not a military service. The Space Force needs an organizational culture that reflects this reality.

A military service masters, manages, and employs organized violence on behalf of its nation against other political units. Service cultures are shaped by this relationship to organized violence. The Space Force supports these services and the warfighting combatant commands, and plays a critical role in today’s military operations. However, people do not (yet) fight and die in or from space. Without a direct link to organized violence, encouraging a warfighting culture in the Space Force creates a profound disconnect between the rhetoric and day-to-day operations. Most importantly, forcing a warfighting culture on the Space Force restricts its ability to grow into a unique organization with its own vibrant culture.

If not organized violence, what then are the defining characteristics of the Space Force, and how can understanding these characteristics help to shape its culture?

A systematic review of 132 articles appearing in five defense publications reveals that the Space Force narrative is dominated by its multi-dimensional relationship to industry. Over one-third of the articles focused on this relationship, though a range of topics that included speeding up space launch, improving the kill chain, using commercial space, and building out the space architecture. Conversely, articles devoted to space operations, including efforts to achieve tactically responsive space (which also has an industry-heavy component) numbered in the single digits. Interestingly, fitness testing and prospects for a Space National Guard garnered as much attention as space operations.

Even recognizing a possible bias for industry issues in these publications, their striking focus on new technologies, industry, programs, contracts, and contracting suggests such areas are fundamental to the Space Force’s purpose and hence cultural core. Thus, rather than try to impose an ill-fitting warfighting culture on the Space Force, its leaders should embrace this unique relationship to technology and industry by creating a culture to match. Here are seven ideas that suggest what this might entail.

 First, leaders should emphasize recruiting and retaining an elite, STEM-focused workforce by hiring personnel with accredited, demanding STEM undergraduate and graduate degrees. Hiring practices could include a practicum to demonstrate an aptitude for understanding and solving technical, quantitative problems. Such a workforce would foster more substantive discussions with industry about various technologies and what it would take to operationalize them. It would encourage adaptation and innovation in using space for military purposes as technology continues to advance. This, in turn, would also encourage lifelong learning in the STEM disciplines. Professional relevance would require Guardians to stay abreast of scientific and technological developments in their disciplines. Such expertise would even help from a contract management perspective, by allowing Guardians to bring their expertise to contract oversight.

Second, reconsider who qualifies as a Guardian. If STEM expertise underpins the Space Force workforce, then civilians, who already make up 35 percent of the force, could conceivably fill even more of the ranks. Preparing them for their duties would require considerable training but of a different sort. Everything from the purpose of basic training to fitness testing to base inspections to the role of command would need reevaluation. Do these help execute the mission? Or are they attempts to compel the Space Force to adopt incompatible vestiges of the military services?

Third, Space Force leaders should continue to explore a longer-term approach to assigning personnel. Rather than subjecting Guardians to a more traditional move, or PCS, cycle, consider how teams are assigned to major space projects such as the Mars Rover or the James Webb Telescope. This would build deeper technical expertise, foster team esprit, and encourage the development of integrated problem-solving skills. Such an approach could contribute to building a strong cultural identity while providing personal stability for Guardians.

Fourth, leadership should embrace the Space Force’s relatively small size, using it to build a reputation as an independent elite organization only the best can join. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, an agency of only 220 employees, has long enjoyed such a reputation within DOD, as have the national labs affiliated with some of the nation’s top universities. Space Force could then concentrate on its core mission and sidestep competing with the military services within the Pentagon bureaucracy.

Fifth, Space Force leaders should create a “uniform,” even khakis and a polo shirt, that all its personnel can wear. Government civilians and contractors are so fundamental to the Space Force’s operations that, arguably, civilians rather than uniformed Guardians possess greater credibility when dealing with everything from space acquisition to operations. Better for all to build a single team across the spectrum of uniformed and government-civilian personnel and contractors. The Army Futures Command has already adopted such an approach, eschewing uniforms in an effort to remove barriers within the command and when dealing with civilian companies.

Sixth, make learning about war and the military services important, but not core, to the Space Force’s role. Guardians must help the military innovate and adapt to the changing character of war, and they need to understand the services they support. But building and retaining currency in their technical areas must come first. They need to use their technical expertise to help identify and address large national problems in peace and war.

Finally, leaders need to articulate what the Space Force uniquely does. This delineation must address not only the overlapping roles among the multiple space organizations within DOD but how the Space Force fits into the broader, more complex government, private-industry space ecosystem. Until this is accomplished, the Space Force will continue to battle a powerful, mostly unspoken four-part narrative: First, politicians created the Space Force for political reasons, rather than to address a large national problem; second, these circumstances produced an organization confused about its purpose; yet, third, now that the organization exists, it jealously protects perceived prerogatives; and fourth, no one wants to discuss the narrative, especially with the Space Force, because of the huge contracts it controls. It is an unfortunate narrative, but leadership must confront it directly or it will insinuate its way into the organization’s culture.

Being a small, elite, technically unrivaled organization offers the best way to challenge this narrative and create a powerful new one. Only by embarking on this unchartered course can the Space Force fulfill its full potential as a crucial guardian force released from direct responsibility for wielding organized violence yet absolutely essential to providing for the nation’s security


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WSJ: America's Space War Vulnerability
« Reply #121 on: February 16, 2024, 07:22:21 AM »
Trump was right to establish the Space Force:

I agree with the deeper point of this editorial, but would like to have seen more acknowledgment of Turner and the White House's play about getting money for Ukraine.


America’s Space War Vulnerability
Maybe Mike Turner’s national-security threat warning will awaken a complacent Washington, D.C.
By The Editorial Board

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Turner created a stir in Washington this week when he warned of a new security threat, and credit the Ohio Republican for doing a public service. America is sleepwalking into a new age of military and homeland vulnerability, and political leaders need to tell the public the uncomfortable truth.


Biden Administration leaks to the press say the threat concerns a Russian program that would target U.S. satellites, perhaps with a nuclear explosion. Satellites are vital to nearly every aspect of modern American life and commerce, as well as national defense. Destroying those would send the U.S. into a communications blackout with untold damage.

Other leaders were quick to downplay or dismiss the threat, saying it’s not imminent and there’s no need to start building a shelter or laying in the canned goods. House Speaker Mike Johnson said “we just want to assure everyone: Steady hands are at the wheel, we’re working on it, and there’s no need for alarm.” Whose steady hands is he talking about—81-year-old President Biden’s, or those in the currently dysfunctional House?

Some GOP critics say Mr. Turner is sounding an alarm about Russia to drum up more support in Congress to pass the weapons package for Ukraine. But the Russian threat Mr. Turner cites either exists or it doesn’t. He asked President Biden to declassify information on the threat so the public can judge for itself, and that’s a good idea. That would be more reassuring than relying on those who told us that the Afghan government wouldn’t fall if the U.S. withdrew its troops from the country.

All the more so because the military threat in space is real and growing. Russia and China are working hard to develop space weapons. A Pentagon official told Congress last year that “Russia has fielded several ground-based lasers that can blind satellite sensors and has a wide range of ground-based electronic warfare systems that can counter the Global Positioning System,” satellite communications, radars, and space-enabled weapons guidance.

China “has already fielded ground-based counterspace weapons, including electronic warfare systems, directed energy weapons, and direct-ascent (DA) anti-satellite (ASAT) missiles designed to disrupt, damage, and destroy U.S. satellites,” the same Pentagon official told Congress last year.

Nina Armagno, a U.S. Space Force official, told a Sydney conference in 2022 that “the progress they’ve made has been stunning, stunningly fast.”

That sounds as if an alarm is justified, yet the Biden Administration thinks this can all be handled with U.S. restraint and arms control. In 2022 Vice President Kamala Harris announced a unilateral U.S. anti-satellite test ban, if you can believe it.

“The United States seeks to establish this as a new international norm for responsible behavior in space,” the White House said in a fact sheet. This seems to have worked as well as President Biden’s effort to deter Vladimir Putin from invading Ukraine.

The unhappy reality is that U.S. satellites are large and vulnerable to attack. Military officials have known this for some time, and their strategy is dispersal and hardening. Details are classified, but in general terms this means relying on more and smaller satellites and making each one better able to withstand an enemy’s anti-satellite lasers or blast weapons.

This takes money, and the Senate’s fiscal 2024 defense spending bill increases space investments by 9%. The bill funds 15 national-security space launches this year, five more than in 2023, plus money for a variety of space monitoring and satellite protection purposes. If Congress fails to pass the bill and instead lapses into a continuing resolution, the Space Force would lose $2.8 billion in spending. That’s nearly a tenth of its budget.

Space has already become the next theater for military competition—the new battlefield “high ground,” as strategists have long predicted. The only question is whether the U.S. is going to cede dominance in space to our adversaries, or treat it like we would any other military theater. The risks of space vulnerability are worse than losing a land battle because the U.S. homeland is threatened.

Political complacency about space war is part of a larger refusal by American elites to educate the public about U.S. vulnerability to new military technologies. The liberal internationalists in the Biden Administration don’t want to highlight growing threats on their watch—and in any case think they can be meliorated with treaties. The GOP’s isolationist wing wants to spend less on defense and cede global spheres of influence to Russia, China and Iran.

Thanks to Mike Turner for trying to wake up the sleepwalkers.


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GPF: Risks of a New Space Rarc
« Reply #123 on: March 14, 2024, 12:35:20 PM »
March 8, 2024
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The Risks of a New Space Race
Could a potential weapon in space cause a major shakeup to U.S. policy?
By: Ronan Wordsworth

Alarm bells rang out in the United States when Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee Michael Turner went public about the threat of Russia deploying a space-based weapon – presumably a nuclear one – and asked President Joe Biden to declassify information about the threat. The idea of an imminent Russian attack is far-fetched, but the due diligence about long-term threats isn’t without merit. For decades, the U.S. has commanded the geopolitical aspects of outer space because it has by far the most developed network of satellites, essential for a multitude of military applications including surveillance, communications, targeting, early warning systems and detailed intelligence gathering. This is to say nothing of the role its satellites play in the commercial sector, covering bank transactions, GPS systems, communications, the internet and weather monitoring. And though these satellites have been crucial for Washington’s military supremacy, they are inherently vulnerable to destruction.

The Outer Space Treaty of 1967, which was adopted as the space race was gaining speed, banned the use of weapons of mass destruction in space, which would pose an existential threat to any nation. A space-based weapon able to destroy satellites and inflict large-scale damage on the territory of their owners would fundamentally alter geopolitical balances of power. It could, for example, negate America’s existing technological advantages by disabling reconnaissance, targeting systems and communications, and bring its economy to its knees. This is why there was such a strong reaction from Washington following the announcement that U.S. intelligence believed Russia was developing such a weapon.

What that weapon could be is unclear. Space weapons could largely be divided into three categories – Earth-to-space weapons, space-to-Earth weapons and space-to-space weapons. It is widely understood that though technically feasible, no country has risked either the condemnation or the investment to deploy the latter two types of space-based weapons.

So far, the systems that have been developed and tested have all been Earth-based direct ascent anti-satellite (ASAT) weapons. China, India and Russia have all demonstrated their capabilities with these systems by hitting their own satellites in orbit. The tests attracted their share of criticism, not least because they left debris that will remain in orbit for decades. Each debris cloud poses substantial risks to other satellites and potential future space missions. Perhaps the biggest concern is the possibility of a chain reaction: If debris hits one satellite, it will create more debris, increasing the likelihood of future collisions to a point where bands of orbital space would be unusable for decades. Following Russia’s test in 2021, the U.S. signed a self-imposed ASAT test ban, and 155 members of the United Nations adopted a similar measure. (Russia, India and China did not.)

Successful Direct Ascent ASAT Missile Tests

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According to reports, Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the development of a new “space weapon” capable of eliminating multiple satellites at once after growing frustrated with the level of resistance his forces were encountering in Ukraine. Using intelligence and targeting information collected from U.S. and British networks of orbital satellites, Kyiv has frequently anticipated Russian assaults and has struck Russian assets well behind the frontline. Moscow already has dual-use systems in orbit that could disrupt U.S. and British satellites, including jamming devices, directional lasers and kinetic systems for debris clearing. However, none of these can inflict sudden, wide-scale damage like a nuclear weapon can.

Since the House Intelligence chair sounded the alarm about the potential weapon, U.S. administration officials have backed up the intelligence while noting that the threat remains theoretical. Still, many U.S. government and military officials believe the U.S. space program is not prepared for such a threat. If Russia or another hostile state managed to put a nuclear ASAT weapon in space, it could threaten U.S. plans to shift from large, single-purpose satellites toward clouds of smaller, cheaper satellites that can act in unison. Washington’s plans are intended to better protect its satellite network from attack while capitalizing on the recent dramatic fall in launch costs, but a space-based nuclear weapon would revolutionize space warfare. In addition, the proliferation of objects in low-Earth orbit creates the risk that a significant attack using ASAT weapons could produce an almost impenetrable field of debris around the planet. In one worst-case scenario, a state in possession of a space-to-space weapon of mass destruction could annihilate its adversaries’ satellites and cement itself as the dominant military actor in space for generations.

Therefore, Washington’s first objective is to deter Moscow from deploying such a weapon in the first place, using diplomatic and military pressure. The U.S. will argue for the preservation of existing norms that have prevented any state from deploying nuclear weapons outside of Earth’s atmosphere. If this fails, the U.S. would be forced to decide whether to develop its own space-based nuclear weapon, which would sound the starting gun on a nuclear arms race in space.

The U.S. and its allies hoped that self-imposed bans on ASAT weapons testing would pressure other countries to follow suit and limit the weaponization of space. However, Russia and China have already demonstrated their ASAT capabilities, and they will be loath to give them up. Whether Russia or another state will go a step further and develop a nuclear ASAT capability is a different question, but the existing international framework based on the Outer Space Treaty looks more fragile than ever. This will force the U.S. to rethink whether safety in numbers is the optimal strategy to maintain its advantage in space, which translates into its military dominance on Earth.


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George Friedman: The Geopolitics of the Moon
« Reply #125 on: April 02, 2024, 07:42:02 AM »
April 2, 2024
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Geopolitics and the Moon
By: George Friedman
The moon will soon totally eclipse the sun – an event rare enough to be measured in centuries. This is a suitable occasion, then, to think about the moon, Earth and humanity. But I also have a more prosaic reason to do so: I am in the process of writing a book on the geopolitics of the moon, so the eclipse has given me an excuse to flesh out some early thoughts. (I assure you that, psychologically, writing for immediate public consumption is dramatically different from endlessly sawing away for the future.)

The primary issue at stake is the relationship of the moon to Earth. Indeed, the moon is intimately connected to Earth. Long ago, a planet roughly the size of Mars brushed by Earth, tore a large chunk of our planet away and placed it in orbit around Earth – or so the dominant theory goes. Though this seems cosmically unlikely, people who know about such things insist that it is true and that it undoubtedly affected the shape of Earth, its climate and perhaps even global agriculture.

The most striking theory is that the moon is filled with valuable minerals on which much of Earth’s economy is built. If it indeed struck Earth many years ago, it must be assumed that a substantial amount of Earth’s mineral structure was torn away with it. If this is true, the moon must be a mineral-rich planet and thus a foundation of wealth. It is known that the moon has substantial amounts of water, for the most part frozen, as well as the ability to capture enormous amounts of energy, radiated by the sun, that could drive industry on the moon and a great deal of Earth’s energy, assuming it is retransmitted to Earth.

The moon is also an excellent place from which to influence or even dominate Earth. It could become a military base from which a hostile enemy could bombard Earth with solar power or boulders procured from the surface of the moon. Equally important, it is an excellent defensive point with offensive weapons hidden beneath its crust, able to withstand attacks – even nuclear attacks – by digging into its surface. Rather than a vast wasteland, a well-defended lunar base would be able to intersect attacks in the Earth-moon area of space and protect mining and industrial installations.

This is a primitive sketch of the significance of the moon. Much must still be learned. But the interest, especially the interest of the United States, is there. In fact, Washington will launch a series of manned missions ultimately designed to establish a base that might stand for a substantial amount of time.

“He who controls Eastern Europe controls the world” has long been a common refrain in the history of geopolitics. I am not sure how true this is, but it sounds definitive. I take much more seriously the principle that, “He who controls the moon controls Earth.” If, as it is assumed, the moon has the resources needed to sustain a long-term presence, energy to control near space and weapons with which to defend it, the proposition makes some sense. After all, the moon is the ultimate high ground, providing clear vision to detect attacks and material that might attract Earth-based powers to seek an alliance with the moon – assuming the proposition that humans might live on the moon merely to become wealthy. There are obvious and not-so-obvious reasons why this might not work, but it should be remembered that Europeans went to South America seeking gold, silver and all the rest. Given current technologies, the relative distance between Portugal and Brazil and between the moon and Portugal is not wildly different. The voyage to the moon may even seem less daunting.

Humans pursue wealth and will use military power to attain it. The history of the world is the history of movement and the struggle for wealth. It seems to me that, if the value many assume the moon possesses comes to fruition, geopolitics might continue to govern in a new game.


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FO: US space infrastructure totally vulnerable to China and Russia
« Reply #126 on: April 04, 2024, 05:44:09 AM »
(7) U.S. SPACE INFRASTRUCTURE REMAINS VULNERABLE: The National Security Space Association, a think tank associated with the Space Force, released a report yesterday announcing that the U.S. space infrastructure is vulnerable to adversary Dynamic Space Operations (the terminology for maneuver warfare in space). The Space Force and commercial space sectors are also behind in developing countermeasures due to cost overruns and delays, according to the report.

Think tankers note that several space maneuver capabilities will just begin to be fielded in 2026, but many projects are still only in the planning phase without a prototype.

Why It Matters: Despite previous assurances that U.S. Space Warfare capabilities are beyond the competitor’s capabilities, this report highlights that Russia and China can attack with near impunity. Until the U.S. publicly fields new capabilities, we should assume an absolute vulnerability to Chinese and Russian space warfare. – J.V.


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GPF: Russian Space programs
« Reply #127 on: April 16, 2024, 06:35:44 AM »
April 12, 2024
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Rocket Launch Exposes Russia’s Technology Gaps
The space industry is a bellwether of Moscow’s technological development and import substitution efforts.
By: Ekaterina Zolotova

Russia on Thursday successfully test-launched a heavy-lift rocket called the Angara-A5, its first space rocket developed after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Though the Kremlin has touted it as a success, the event was plagued by several setbacks. The launch at the Vostochny Cosmodrome was initially planned for December 2023 but was postponed. It was rescheduled for April 9 but canceled at the last minute. (Officials said there was a failure of the pressurization system of the rocket’s central block oxidizer tank.) It was postponed again the following day, due to technical issues, before the rocket was finally launched on April 11. This case highlights Moscow’s challenges in the face of Western sanctions, especially in technology-heavy sectors such as the space industry.

For Moscow, the space industry is critical not only in maintaining Russia’s status as a space power but also in ensuring the continued progress of its defense and tech sectors. Space technologies are key to guaranteeing the security of communications, the internet and global navigation systems, which have both civilian and military purposes. Since the Soviet era, the West has repeatedly tried to impede Russian advancements in these technologies. For example, restrictions were imposed in the 1990s when Russian rockets entered commercial markets, and after 2014, when Russia annexed Crimea. On Feb. 24, 2022, the first day of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, the U.S. restricted the sale of certain advanced technologies to Russia, which led to supply shortages, the cancellation of launches and the suspension of scientific programs.

Russian Rocket Launches, 2018-2024

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Since the sanctions came into effect, the space industry has become a bellwether of Russia’s technological development and import substitution efforts, not only in space but also in related industries, from mining to manufacturing to transportation. The Kremlin believes successful rocket launches can demonstrate that, despite sanctions, Russia can develop new technologies and maintain its space program while also continuing to supply its military campaign in Ukraine and stimulate its economy.

The Kremlin doesn’t have much choice but to develop more advanced technologies that can aid its war effort and ensure internet accessibility for all regions of the country. The Soviet-era Proton-M rocket, which Angara-A5 was designed to replace, will be in operation until only 2025. Angara-A5 has several key advantages over its potential predecessor, including that it is kerosene-based and does not use toxic fuel components. It’s also produced with only Russian components and can be launched from Russian cosmodromes, unlike Proton-M, which is launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome, a Russian-operated spaceport in Kazakhstan. Russia doesn’t want to rely on a foreign country to conduct its space operations, especially considering that Kazakhstan has recently emphasized its neutrality, fearing it could be hit by secondary sanctions if it’s seen by the West as helping Russia’s war effort.

This week’s test-launch was the first for this particular rocket at the Vostochny Cosmodrome in Russia’s Far East region. Previous launches took place at the Plesetsk Cosmodrome in the northwestern Arkhangelsk region in 2014, 2020 and 2021. They were moved to Vostochny for financial and safety reasons. According to the Kremlin, Vostochny will also enable the country to conduct more frequent launches on its own terms, without having to rely on a foreign facility.

Russian Launches at Cosmodromes, 2023-2024

(click to enlarge)

In addition to Angara-A5, Russia hopes to produce completely domestically operated communication satellites by 2026, after foreign companies stopped providing satellite services. However, Moscow’s space industry has suffered many stumbling blocks due to continued reliance on foreign technologies and components, despite its attempts to ramp up domestic manufacturing and innovation. The company that produces engines for the Angara family of rockets indicated that it had to find Russian analogues, or at least analogues from friendly countries, of parts needed to manufacture the engines in order to fulfill the order. Russia is also still dependent on imported microelectronic components, which has especially affected the space program. Development of Russia’s Glonass navigation system has also stalled due to reliance on foreign-made parts. (The satellite uses 6,000 types of imported electronic components.) In 2023, Russian imports of communication base stations and their components increased by 15 percent. These parts are produced mainly by foreign tech firms Huawei, Ericsson and Nokia and supplied most likely through Russia’s parallel imports program rather than direct contracts, meaning they are likely purchased at retail and at higher prices than in the past.

Clearly, there are many gaps in Moscow’s import substitution scheme due to a lack of personnel, equipment and modern technology. In the energy sector, Russia remains almost completely dependent on foreign sources of catalysts, used in the production of various fuels, including the kerosene used by Angara rockets. Cutting off supplies from abroad completely would have a ripple effect, potentially closing production in sectors from automotive to food. In 2024, under Moscow’s Action Plan for Import Substitution in the Oil and Gas Engineering Industry, Russia aims to increase self-sufficiency in the geological exploration, geophysical equipment and seismic equipment category to only 40 percent; metal-cutting machines to 33 percent; pumps to 55 percent; equipment and materials for drilling, cementing wells and overhaul of wells to 45 percent; and reactors and coke chambers to 55 percent. Sanctions have also caused delays in repairing oil refineries – which forced the fourth-largest refinery in the country to reduce gasoline production by 40 percent. Adding to these deficiencies, production facilities are now also concerned about Ukrainian drone attacks, which have become more frequent since the start of this year. These strikes have targeted oil refineries, which have already reduced output by about 10 percent, and plants focused on the domestic market.

Russia’s space industry is managing other long-term problems, such as corruption and brain drain. A shortage of engineering and scientific expertise creates risks for the quality of services and reliability of the satellite fleet. Moreover, developing expensive advanced technologies requires substantial funds, which could attract corruption. In 2019, Russia’s prosecutor general said more than 1.6 billion rubles ($17 million) to modernize the country’s production base and weapons industry were stolen from state-owned firms Roscosmos and Rostec.

It seems that Moscow realizes now that its transition to import substitution will be slow, complicated by structural problems and complexities arising from sanctions and geopolitical disruptions. But time is running out, especially when it comes to critical industries like space. The lack of funds and increasing difficulty in implementing the parallel imports scheme add to the roadblocks, and as deadlines approach, the Kremlin will seek more external funding and cooperation from its remaining international partners. In the meantime, it will tout its few successes – including the Angara-A5 test launch – to distract from its failures.


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FO: Could/Would China block US from moon?
« Reply #128 on: April 30, 2024, 02:22:00 PM »
(6) NELSON: CHINA COULD ATTEMPT TO BLOCK U.S. FROM THE MOON: National Aeronautical and Space Administration (NASA) Administration Bill Nelson warned that China could attempt to block the United States from accessing the moon.

“I think it’s not beyond the pale that China would suddenly say, ‘We are here [on the moon]. You stay out,’” Nelson said.

Nelson added that China’s interest in the south pole of the moon is based on the likely presence of ice, which could be melted and turned into hydrogen. He called the South Pole a kind of “gas station” for space travel.

Beijing continues with ambitious plans to land astronauts on the moon by 2030 and previously announced a joint moon base project with Russia.

Why It Matters: Space and the moon represent another area for competition with strategic implications. China is not a signatory to the Artemis Accords, in which 38 countries have agreed to peacefully share space exploration. – M.S.