Space and Satellites

What’s in space—and how does it affect global security?


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Some pretty good work by Congress on missile defense this year

, senior scientist

Photo: Eric E Johnson/Creative Commons (Flickr)

The Congressional defense budget process is entering its conclusion, though battles remain. Despite little to show for it, the overall budget for missile defense continues to be robust. For example, the Senate appropriators met last week and added $1.2 billion above the Trump administration’s budget request for missile defense, including an additional $532 million for upgrades and six more boosters for the beleaguered Ground-based Midcourse Defense system, and added $222 million to fund program to replace the recently canceled Redesigned Kill Vehicle program. That is an unfortunate waste of tax dollars.

However, in other areas Congress—in particular the House—made a number of useful and positive corrections to the administration’s $9.4 billion missile defense budget request. The House also put several sensible new missile defense policies in place that deserve support. Read more >

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Don’t Scapegoat China for Killing the INF Treaty. Ask it to Join.

, China project manager and senior analyst

September 23, 2016: Chinese UN Representative Liu Jieyi votes in favor of a UN Security Council resolution on the 20th anniversary of the signing of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) urging all parties to push for the treaty’s entry into force.

The Trump administration recently announced it intends to walk away from an important agreement that reduces the risk of nuclear war—the INF Treaty. US officials said concerns about China were an important factor in deciding to scrap a nuclear arms control pact intended to last in perpetuity. But there is no evidence the Trump administration consulted Chinese leaders about its plans to withdraw or the concerns that supposedly made it necessary. Read more >

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Record Number of Satellites in Orbit

, senior scientist

An updated version of the UCS Satellite Database has been posted. Including launches and deactivations through November 30, 2018, the Database includes information on about 1,957 active satellites. That is 71 more than our previous release last July. Read more >

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Questions about a US Space Force

, senior scientist

This week, President Trump verbally directed General Dunford, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, “to begin the process necessary to establish a Space Force as the sixth branch of the armed forces.”

The term “Space Force” really got everyone’s attention. Obviously, everyone wants to know what the uniform would be. And the whole idea is built for memes.

What’s it all about? Let me respond to three different kinds of questions I’ve been hearing about this. Read more >

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Lost in Space? The Zuma Satellite

, senior scientist

Many people awaited last Sunday’s Falcon 9 launch from Cape Canaveral of a highly classified US payload. The launch had been delayed for weeks, speculation as to the satellite’s purpose was rampant, and successfully delivering national security satellites to orbit is an important part of SpaceX’s business.

The launch, however, remains shrouded in mystery. Read more >

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