It’s not the easiest of times for national missile defense advocates. The normally friendly House Armed Services Committee hearings on missile defense hosted some tough talk centered around a recently released, critical memo from two of the Joint Chiefs. And this weekend the LA Times release a pair of damning articles drawing connections between Senators and Congress members who sheltered expensive but poorly conceived and eventually cancelled national missile defense programs and their districts’ financial benefits from these programs. Read More
April 2nd, 2015
The purpose of the UCS Satellite Database is to provide information about the on-orbit capabilities of different actors and to provide a research tool for specialists and non-specialists alike, using open-source information about operational satellites.
We try very hard to keep the list accurate and useful, so we appreciate communication from the space community and our users suggesting improvements and pointing out errors.
While some “corrections” are truly errors, many of them arise from differences in definition of terms or misunderstanding about the Database’s purpose. For example, our aim is not to provide information on all orbiting objects (many of which are debris) or to assist in collision avoidance, nor to provide a catalogue of all objects that have ever been launched. Read More
March 13th, 2015
February 2nd, 2015
December 4th, 2014
In mid-August, Missile Defense Agency (MDA) Director Vice Admiral Syring gave a keynote speech at the annual Space and Missile Defense Symposium in Huntsville, AL. By most accounts it was a frank and interesting talk. However, conference security personnel limited journalists’ ability to photograph the slides or record the talk, which led to controversy and an eventually an apology by the conference organizers.
The few slides journalist Amy Butler was able to tweet looked interesting. Since they were marked “Approved for Public Release,” I asked the MDA office for them, but my request was declined. So I filed a Freedom of Information Act request, which met with success. Six weeks later, we received a copy of the slide deck and a transcript of the verbal remarks that accompanied it. Read More
December 1st, 2014
In May, Russia announced it had launched three Russian communications satellites, Kosmos-2496, -2497, -2498. An additional object was along for the ride, orbiting a few kilometers away from the declared payloads. Without a declared name, this satellite was subsequently classified as debris by the U.S. space surveillance system. Read More
November 19th, 2014
Quartz created an interactive visualization using the UCS Satellite Database data called “The World Above Us: This is every active satellite orbiting the earth.” It shows all the satellites in the database, with their image size proportional to their launch mass, set in altitude bands. You can pull up relevant details on each satellite, and set them in motion. You can highlight different populations (spy sats, type of user, etc.)
It’s a real pleasure to see someone take your work (in this case, primarily the work of Database researcher Teri Grimwood) and make something beautiful and useful from it.
November 3rd, 2014
Inside Defense reports that the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) has scrapped its plans for the next Ground Based Midcourse missile defense (GMD) system intercept test. It had been planned for the coming spring; instead, MDA will perform a non-intercept flight test of the system, designated CTV-02+. Read More
October 15th, 2014
October 3rd, 2014
So, happy anniversary to you, Ground Based Midcourse missile defense (GMD) system. I see that the traditional 10-year anniversary gift is tin or perhaps diamonds, though your best friends seem to be favoring tons of concrete. Read More