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Why is the Pentagon going to deploy hundreds of satellites in low orbits

The United States is preparing to deploy a new system of hundreds of satellites in near-Earth space. Why is the Pentagon going to deploy hundreds of satellites in low orbits

Why is the Pentagon going to deploy hundreds of satellites in low orbits

The United States is preparing to deploy a new system of hundreds of satellites in near-Earth space. Russia is still somewhat behind the leaders of the "space club", but the early implementation of its similar development could allow it to remain among the leading world players in near-Earth space.

The US Space and Missile Systems Center intends to deploy a promising next-generation missile attack warning system in space. It is called Overhead Persistent Infrared (OPIR) and will be a constellation of satellites in low Earth orbits. About this writes the publication Defense News.
OPIR will replace the current U.S. Air Force missile attack warning system, the Space-Based Infrared System (SBIRS). At the same time, talk about such a replacement has been going on for a long time.

In addition to detecting the launches of intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), the previous SBIRS system was designed to determine their flight path, recognize warheads and false targets, issue target designation by anti-missile systems to intercept warheads, and conduct reconnaissance over the territory of military operations in the infrared range. Apparently, the OPIR system will also have the same tactical and technical characteristics, but in an improved version.
Like its predecessor, OPIR in the first stage will consist of a small number of large and expensive satellites operating in geosynchronous orbits. The abbreviation OPIR can be roughly translated into Russian as “The space echelon of a missile attack warning system operating in continuous infrared mode”.
At the same time, the leaders of the US Air Force in Los Angeles consider it necessary in the future to improve the OPIR system using the principles of open architecture, which, in their opinion, should lead to a significant increase in the combat capabilities of the system.
In the meantime, the US Air Force signed a $ 2.9 billion contract with Lockheed Martin Corporation for the construction of three OPIR geosynchronous satellites and signed a contract with Northrop Grumman for the construction of two more satellites that will be in near-polar orbits.
It is planned that OPIR will continue to use spacecraft with relatively small mass and dimensional characteristics for these purposes.
Speaking at one of the events of the Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Research, Colonel Dennis Bytwood, the head of the space development program at the Center for Space and Rocket Systems, said that the issue of creating a spacecraft constellation consisting of hundreds of small satellites using the infrared range is being considered.
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The idea of ​​placing the OPIR constellation in low Earth orbits has been very popular in the US in recent months. Representatives of the Pentagon have long put forward the idea of ​​using the cosmic sensor layer in low Earth orbit. In addition, this group is considered as a way of detecting and tracking hypersonic cruise missiles of a potential enemy, which may miss the existing missile attack warning systems.
The idea of ​​transferring space systems to small satellites is attracting more and more supporters in the United States. In particular, Agency Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency executives said they plan to deploy elements of the OPIR system on their experimental small satellites.
“The value of these two options for improving the OPIR system is not in replacing one system with another. We find that the threats to our systems are different in each orbit. And the capabilities that we can get from our systems are also different in each orbit, ”said Colonel Dennis Bytwood.
For Brentwood, the small satellite approach is attractive for two main reasons - cost and fault tolerance. At the same time, there are opportunities for small US companies to compete for Pentagon contracts. Namely, this circumstance is especially liked by senior representatives of the US Air Force. Creating a competitive environment, the Americans believe, dramatically increases the speed and quality of solving problems.
However, the plans of the United States for the further development of near-Earth outer space are not at all limited to the deployment of only the OPIR system.
“In the USA, the concept of“ Network-centric warfare ”has been developed, which defines new methods of warfare based on combining forces, means and resources of armed struggle with a network of networks into a single community,” Konstantin, deputy director of the Center for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies , told Gazeta.Ru Makienko .
The interlocutor of the publication recalled that the implementation of the ideas of the NCW is predicted by 2025.
On the basis of NCW, the US Department of Defense secretariat has even introduced a concept that encompasses all types of armed forces and is called the Global Information Grid.
In light of such intensive work by the United States in space, Russia also faces the strategic task of creating a space integrated telecommunication space.
The country is already developing a multifunctional space information system based on the orbital network of small spacecraft, which should be at least 150. Its goal will be to provide basic indicators for military intelligence and communications systems.
It is expected that it will be able, at a minimum, to provide switching (routing) and relaying of data packets; real-time multi-position radio intelligence; multi-angle panchromatic and hyperspectral optical terrain photography; multi-position bistatic radar of the underlying surface of the Earth; monitoring and refining the parameters of the Earth's gravitational field; ionosphere radio monitoring.
If the system is created, global monitoring of land, water, airspace, and the prospect of the emergence of the Russian space Internet can become real, which will put the country among the leading information-developed states.
Given that at the moment Russia is somewhat behind the leaders of the "space club", the early implementation of the development could allow it to remain among the leading world players in near-Earth space.

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