Author Topic: Geosynchronous Space Situational Awareness Program (GSSAP) Declassified  (Read 40307 times)

Offline darkbluenine

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Declassification of an Air Force maneuverable GEO space situational awareness capability to start launching this year:

http://www.aviationweek.com/Article.aspx?id=/article-xml/awx_02_21_2014_p0-666050.xml

System has important implications for space militarization and relations going forward.

Mods may want to move to In-Space Hardware at appropriate point.  (I'm unaware of any milspace section on these forums.)

« Last Edit: 02/25/2014 11:12 am by Chris Bergin »

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So this is what AFSPC-4/5 is! Wow, would other GEO user countries protest about surveillance on the crowdest belt in space?
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Offline Jim

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Wonder if this related to MIDEX that flew on Delta II

Offline Jim

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So this is what AFSPC-4/5 is! Wow, would other GEO user countries protest about surveillance on the crowdest belt in space?

No different than the open seas

Online Skyrocket

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Wonder if this related to MIDEX that flew on Delta II

This is very plausible, as one of the MIDEX satellites was built by Orbital.

Offline sdsds

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In the article, Amy Butler doesn't give any source for her assertion, "The satellites could carry other payloads — such as radio-frequency sensors or jammers — that have not been disclosed."

Of course this assertion is trivially true, i.e. any satellite "could" carry other payloads. But Butler must have some reason for mentioning this possibility other than a personal hunch. And after all, this wouldn't be the first time that a more benign and less secret payload provided cover for a more hostile more secret one!
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Offline Blackstar

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So this is what AFSPC-4/5 is! Wow, would other GEO user countries protest about surveillance on the crowdest belt in space?

No different than the open seas

And this is a case where they all benefit. Much of the monitoring of space debris and satellite movements--particularly in GEO--is done by the USAF. USAF regularly notifies satellite operators that an object is nearing their satellite. I think that in most cases the response is "Thank you."

Offline Blackstar

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http://www.spacenews.com/article/military-space/39578shelton-discloses-previously-classified-surveillance-satellite-effort


Shelton Discloses Previously Classified Surveillance Satellite Effort

By Mike Gruss | Feb. 21, 2014


WASHINGTON — The U.S. Air Force is expected to launch two high-orbiting satellites for a previously classified space surveillance system late in 2014, Gen. William Shelton, commander of Air Force Space Command, said Feb. 21.

Shelton disclosed the existence of the Geosynchronous Space Situational Awareness system (GEO SSA) for the first time at the Air Warfare Symposium in Orlando, Fla.

According to an Air Force fact sheet, the two-satellite system will operate in a “near-geosynchrous orbit regime” to provide accurate tracking and characterization of man-made orbiting objects. Satellites with missions including communications and missile warning operate in the geosynchronous-orbit belt roughly 36,000 kilometers above the equator.


Offline Blackstar

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In the article, Amy Butler doesn't give any source for her assertion, "The satellites could carry other payloads — such as radio-frequency sensors or jammers — that have not been disclosed."

Of course this assertion is trivially true, i.e. any satellite "could" carry other payloads. But Butler must have some reason for mentioning this possibility other than a personal hunch. And after all, this wouldn't be the first time that a more benign and less secret payload provided cover for a more hostile more secret one!

I think she's speculating and there's no basis for it. Mixing missions is a pain. There's no good reason to do that. Operationally it makes things really difficult--what if your primary mission is to monitor GEO traffic, but somebody comes along and says "We want to jam this satellite way over here."? Do you abandon the primary mission to go do the other thing?

Online Skyrocket

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I think she's speculating and there's no basis for it. Mixing missions is a pain. There's no good reason to do that. Operationally it makes things really difficult--what if your primary mission is to monitor GEO traffic, but somebody comes along and says "We want to jam this satellite way over here."? Do you abandon the primary mission to go do the other thing?

Mixing missions is a pain, but it is not unheard of.

E.g. the NROL-22 and -28 missions, which have an ELINT payload (Trumpet F/O), an early warning payload (SBIRS-HEO), an scientific payload (TWINS) and possibly a communications payload (IPS).

Offline Blackstar

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I think she's speculating and there's no basis for it. Mixing missions is a pain. There's no good reason to do that. Operationally it makes things really difficult--what if your primary mission is to monitor GEO traffic, but somebody comes along and says "We want to jam this satellite way over here."? Do you abandon the primary mission to go do the other thing?

Mixing missions is a pain, but it is not unheard of.

E.g. the NROL-22 and -28 missions, which have an ELINT payload (Trumpet F/O), an early warning payload (SBIRS-HEO), an scientific payload (TWINS) and possibly a communications payload (IPS).

Yeah, but I think the difference is that in that case the secondary mission (or missions) isn't allowed to interfere with the primary mission. It's hard to see how you can mix an SSA mission with the other things she speculated about.

And I'm pretty sure she's speculating, because this news broke this morning and the article was obviously written quickly, without any time to really work any sources. If she had knowledge of it before now, she would have written about it before now (to get the scoop). My suspicion is that she was trying to fill a word count.


Offline Blackstar

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Another article on the subject. No new facts, but some more speculation:

http://breakingdefense.com/2014/02/new-spy-satellites-revealed-by-air-force-will-watch-other-sats/

Photo is the MiTEx launch.

Offline Star One

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This was the bit that intrigued me in that last article.

Quote
One of the really intriguing questions that we can’t answer yet is why Gen. Shelton released this information now, and why at AFA? Presumably the decision to declassify the existence of G-SAP was made at the White House level, probably an interagency decision involving the the Office of Science and Technology Policy, the State Department, Defense Department, Director of National Intelligence.

Anyone got any good guesses on what may have facilitated the decision to semi-declassify this project?
« Last Edit: 02/22/2014 04:43 pm by Star One »

Offline kevin-rf

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Better to release it before people start tracking in orbit and start asking questions. From this one can assume, no stealth is planned to mask location or spoof attempts at tracking.
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Offline Star One

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Given their jobs wouldn't electric propulsion be ideal for these?

Offline Blackstar

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It does raise an interesting question. Off the top of my head I cannot remember any previous recent USAF programs that were treated like this--classified at first, then declassified. Why do it like this?

Offline Star One

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It does raise an interesting question. Off the top of my head I cannot remember any previous recent USAF programs that were treated like this--classified at first, then declassified. Why do it like this?

Did you note the prevailing thinking in the comments under that last article about why this has been declassified?

I wonder if they'll go as far as too release any kind of pictures of them?

Makes you wonder if they'll semi-declassify any other programs if that's the mood their in.
« Last Edit: 02/22/2014 06:24 pm by Star One »

Offline A_M_Swallow

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It does raise an interesting question. Off the top of my head I cannot remember any previous recent USAF programs that were treated like this--classified at first, then declassified. Why do it like this?

Is the program mentioned in any of the documents Edward Snowden released?
High security is very expensive and has caused projects to fail.

Offline kevin-rf

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A little more interesting is why will a pair of replacement satellites will launch in 2016. A two year on orbit life is quite short.

Since satellites in GSO can last as long as 20 years, what does this say?

1. They are stop gaps that will be superseded in two years?

or

2. They contain a consumable that will be depleted in two years time?

Could be fuel for maneuvering, but I will make a very large WAG. The best wavelengths to search for space debris in space is IR. Could these satellites be LHe cooled and the reason for such a fast replacement is how long they can keep the LHe.

Again a wag, but two years is quite short.
« Last Edit: 02/22/2014 08:13 pm by kevin-rf »
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Offline kevin-rf

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Now to divert us a little, Ed was recently musing and wondering if the X-37 was using LHe to do some sort of  IR imaging. Now if the X-37 comes home abut the same time these birds launch, well we might need to speculate just a little.
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