Space: October 22, 2002


The Department of Defense is putting about half a billion dollars a year into research on how to allow space satellites to work closely with weapons down below. The objective is to link the satellite with warplanes, armored vehicles and warships so that as soon as the satellite spots a worthy target, the closest vehicle with a missile or bomb will quickly hit the target. This tactic assumes that satellites will become more numerous, cheaper and equipped with better cameras and other sensors. If recon satellites fly relatively low, they can't stay on one place, but must keep moving around the plant. A stationary orbit requires the satellite to be higher up, which means it can see less detail. So you need a lot more low flying satellites to make this work. There is a lot of enthusiasm in the Department of Defense for this "space warfare" angle, even if weapons are not put into orbit (but remain on the ground or on aircraft). Recon satellites have proved useful, but people on the ground have also found ways to deceive them. Getting around this is another objective of all this research. The US military sees the future as being on the high ground, or, in this case, space.


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