TechPentagon situates missile-detecting satellites amid reports of potential Russian threats

Pentagon situates missile-detecting satellites amid reports of potential Russian threats

Satellite in space - illustrative photo
Satellite in space - illustrative photo
Images source: © NASA
11:12 AM EST, February 16, 2024

The New York Times reported on Thursday evening Eastern Time that these satellites were launched mere hours after reports came to light about potential Russian weaponry that could threaten American satellites. The newspaper underscores, however, that the coincidental timing was entirely unintentional.

Launching satellites for missile detection

The satellites dispatched into orbit on Wednesday are the newest additions to a 27-satellite constellation that the SDA has been launching since April 2023. This initiative forms part of a program known as Tranche 0. The system includes eight satellites that detect different types of missiles, with the remaining 19 serving as channels for communication and data transmission.

This system is a prototype designed to trial a satellite defense strategy known as Proliferated Warfighter Space Architecture. The strategy aims to populate the low Earth orbit with hundreds of smaller, cheaper satellites, ensuring that, even if an enemy manages to destroy several significant satellites—even more than 12—the satellite system remains operational due to these smaller satellites.

The NYT highlights how continuous satellite observation provides the Pentagon one of its most crucial advantages. Consequently, the U.S. military can simultaneously identify threats, relay information among various units, transmit data to its unmanned weaponry for object targeting and continuously surveil enemy movements and weapon placements.

Before the Pentagon announced the satellite placement, U.S. media reported that U.S. intelligence had information regarding Russia deploying an anti-totalitarian nuclear system in space. This development could represent an international threat, and Washington has already alerted its allies.

Quoting government officials, The New York Times reported that the intelligence findings linked to Russian attempts to deploy nuclear anti-satellite weapons in space. Nevertheless, current and prior U.S. defense officials firmly maintain that there are no nuclear weapons presently in orbit.

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