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Posts Tagged ‘space’

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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Pentagon Changes Its Assessment of Iran’s ICBM Prospects

Inside Defense reports that the Pentagon’s assessment of the Iranian intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) threat has changed substantially for the first time since 1999. The new assessment appears in the unclassified executive summary of the Pentagon’s January 2014 Annual Report on Military Power of Iran. Read More

Categories: Missiles and Missile Defense  

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Five Kinds of Things the UCS Satellite Database Can Tell You

We’ve been getting a good number of questions about the UCS Satellite Database and have been happy to see it be useful as context in recent discussions about satellite imaging and the search for the missing Malaysia Airlines flight 370. Read More

Categories: Space and Satellites  

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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, 2014, has been posted at ucsusa.org/satellites.

There are currently 1167 active satellites in the database. Read More

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Disaggregation: Satellite Navigation More Resilient Than You Think

The Pentagon voiced its concern this week that the U.S. GPS navigation capabilities could be held at risk by increasingly capable Chinese anti-satellite capabilities. But it is worth noting that while individual satellites might be threatened, disabling the system and knocking out navigation services is much harder.  Read More

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Space Debris, Satellites, and a Reality Check

One strange effect of the seven Oscar wins yesterday for Alfonso Cuarón’s film Gravity is that many more people will be conversant about something that was mostly the kind of thing specialists talked about—just how damaging space debris from anti-satellite (ASAT) weapons can be. In Gravity, astronauts played by Sandra Bullock and George Clooney struggle for their lives after debris from a satellite destroyed on-orbit by Russia threatens the space shuttle and space station. Read More

Categories: Space Security  

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On Congressman Wolf

Congressman Frank Wolf (R-VA) recently announced that he will not seek reelection in 2014.  The congressman was well known for his opposition to cooperation between the U.S. and China in space. UCS criticized his approach to this question on numerous occasions.

The restrictions on U.S.—China cooperation in space are counterproductive. They punish well-meaning Chinese scientists and engineers and abet Chinese hard-liners who oppose cooperation every bit as strongly as Mr. Wolf. Lack of normal contact between the U.S. and Chinese space communities increases mistrust and misunderstanding, forestalls cooperative research that could benefit both and does little to curb China’s technological development. The restrictions are a public policy failure and before he departs Congressman Wolf should remove them. It would be a fitting end to the distinguished career of a public servant who, more often then not, advanced the role of science in the conduct of public policy.

In an age when many of our elected representatives cannot see far past the next election, Congressman Wolf took a principled stand on China and expended considerable personal effort to pursue it.  His ban on cooperation in space was motivated, in part, by legitimate and important concerns about human rights in China. While the ban did little to advance human rights in China, and actually impinged upon the rights of many of the Chinese scientists and engineers caught up in the ban, the retiring congressman from Virginia deserves respect, not ridicule, for trying to make a difference.

Congressman Wolf meets with Gao He, wife of Gao Zhisheng, an imprisoned Chinese lawyer, in February 2012. (Photo courtesy of the Washington Post)

Congressman Wolf meets with Geng He, wife of Gao Zhisheng, an imprisoned Chinese lawyer, in February 2012. (Photo courtesy of the Washington Post)

 

Categories: Space and Satellites, Space Security  

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Iran Space Launch Program: Update

While the world is focusing on negotiations over the Iranian nuclear program, where do things stand on the other piece of the puzzle, the Iranian space-launch and missile program? Read More

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Strategic Options for Chinese Space Science and Technology

Last spring the Chinese Academy of Science (CAS) produced a report that included a lengthy section on the future of Chinese space science and technology. A translation with commentary is now available on the UCS website.

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