Space: The Interim Polar System


February20, 2007: The U.S. Air Force put the second of three polar communications satellites into orbit earlier this month. This means that the satellite military communications capability for the arctic is now available for use. The Interim Polar System (IPS) gets satellite communications to a part of the planet that is often a communications black hole. The IPS birds, since they are owned by the Department of Defense, can provide encrypted communications for military users. Civilian users will be allowed access to the IPS birds, whenever capacity is available. The polar region is critical militarily, as the shortest way from anywhere, to anywhere, in the northern hemisphere, is usually via the polar areas. The third IPS satellite will improve coverage and provide backup.


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