space debris


24 Space-Based Missile Defense Satellites Cannot Defend Against ICBMs

, co-director and 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.

Articles citing a classified 2011 report by the Institute for Defense Analysis (IDA) have mistakenly suggested the report finds that a constellation of only 24 satellites can be used for space-based boost-phase missile defense. Read More

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More Comments on the IDA Boost-Phase Missile Defense Study

, co-director and senior scientist

Part 1 of this post discusses one aspect of the 2011 letter from Missile Defense Agency (MDA) to then-Senator Kyl about the IDA study of space-based missile defense. The letter raises several additional issues, which I comment on here. Read more >

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Russian Rocket Body Seen as a Streak over Arizona

, co-director and senior scientist

A fireball seen in the sky over the western U.S. got a lot of press attention today, with people wondering what it was and whether it was a threat.

The U.S. military, which tracks objects in space, said that it was caused by the reentry into the atmosphere of the empty stage of a Russian SL-4 rocket body, which apparently had been launched a day earlier. Read more >

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Russia’s Small Maneuvering Satellites: Inspectors or ASATs?

, senior scientist

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

, senior scientist

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.

 

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