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Laura Grego

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About the author: Dr. Grego received her PhD in physics from the Caltech in 1999. She was a postdoctoral researcher for three years at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, where she investigated issues in cosmology using X-ray, radio, and optical data, and numerical simulation. She has been at UCS since 2002. Areas of expertise: Space weapons and security, ballistic missile proliferation, ballistic missile defense

Preventing Space War

“Of all the places where conflict could erupt, space might seem the least likely, except in movies.”

So says a very good New York Times editorial “Preventing a Space War” this week. Sounds right, if X-Wing fighters come to mind when you think space conflict. But in reality conflict in space is both more likely than one would think and less likely to be so photogenic. Read More

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More Problems with U.S. Missile Defense Interceptors

A recent government report revealed two problems with the U.S. Ground Based Midcourse (GMD) missile defense system. These flaws, like several problems revealed previously, affect the operation of the “kill vehicle”—the business end of the anti-missile interceptors. The kill vehicle is the part of the system designed to guide itself to collide with and destroy an enemy warhead in space, and is therefore one of the key parts of the whole system. Read More

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A Tough Week for Missile Defense Advocates

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

Categories: Missiles and Missile Defense  

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Three Reasons the UCS Satellite Database is Different from Other Satellite Catalogs

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

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New Quarterly Update to the UCS Satellite Database

A new version of the UCS Satellite Database, which includes launches through January 31, 2015, has been posted at http://ucsusa.org/satellites and includes 1265 active satellites.

 

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Categories: Space and Satellites  

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Iran’s Fourth Successful Satellite Launch

Despite a report two weeks ago from Medium.com that Iran’s space program was unceremoniously shut down, it appears to be alive and well. Iran successfully launched a small satellite into orbit for the fourth time, just a day ahead of Iran’s national space day. Read More

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FOIAed Missile Defense Documents: Syring’s Huntsville Presentation

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

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Russia’s Small Maneuvering Satellites: Inspectors or ASATs?

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

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Visualizing the UCS Satellite Database

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.)

quartz satellites

A still image from the Quartz interactive website.

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.

 

Categories: Space and Satellites  

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An Update on Missile Defense Testing Plans

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

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