The concept of zombies, coopted and corrupted as it has been over time, seems to follow the cultural moment. Apparently, the idea of a creature that persistently gets up after it’s good and knocked down really resonates with Americans. (I agree with the commentators who suggest we have reached “peak zombie.”) Clearly, however, Congress is not on the cultural vanguard, and seems not to have gotten the message that we are all set with the undead. Read More
September 30th, 2015
With little fanfare beyond a State Department press release, the United States on Monday began bilateral discussions with China on civil space cooperation.
You would be forgiven for not thinking that’s remarkable, since the United States and China are the two biggest space players. Why wouldn’t they be talking at a high level about space debris, how to avoid satellite collisions, and ways to collaborate on space science or coordinate weather observations?
But in fact, it has been extraordinarily difficult to get this to happen and it deserves a bit of applause. Read More
September 12th, 2015
July 7th, 2015
“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
June 3rd, 2015
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
April 8th, 2015
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