Space and Satellites

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


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Latest Space and Satellites Posts

Space-based missile defense. Again?

, senior scientist

UPDATE: In September 2018, UCS released an animated feature and video that explains how space-based missile defense works. Check it out here.

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 >

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U.S. and China Talk Civil Space Cooperation

, senior scientist

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 >

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New Update to UCS Satellite Database

, senior scientist

An updated version of the UCS Satellite Database has just been posted. This update includes satellites launched through August 31, 2015. Currently, we tally 1305 actively operating satellites. (Reminder: a detailed discussion of what we mean by “active” can be found here.) Read more >

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NPT Brief: Keeping Chinese Nuclear Weapons Off Hair-Trigger Alert

, China project manager and senior analyst

An overwhelming majority of NPT member states agree that keeping nuclear weapons on hair-trigger alert presents an irresponsibly high risk of an accidental or mistaken launch. The final report of the last NPT review conference, held in 2010, included a requirement to lower alert levels. The United States is doing its best to make sure that requirement is stripped from the final language of the 2015 report, despite the wishes of many close U.S. allies. Read more >

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No Need to Give Up on Peace in Space

, China project manager and senior analyst

The headlines from this year’s space symposium in Colorado Springs were full of doom and gloom. The U.S. assistant secretary of State for arms control warned, “The threat to outer space is real and growing.” He drew bright lines in the heavens between enemies and allies, dismissed international entreaties for negotiations in the United Nations Conference on Disarmament (UNCD), and called on U.S. allies to strengthen space deterrence.

U.S. Air Force Lt. General Jay Raymond told the packed house of space enthusiasts that China was enemy number one. He claimed a July 2014 Chinese missile defense test was actually an anti-satellite test and that it was successful, although he offered no new information in support of either claim. U.S. officials are using the recent Chinese test to justify greater U.S. reliance on space weaponry to protect U.S. satellites. Read more >

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