Space: U.S. Army Back In Orbit


May 2,2008: The U.S. Army is back in the satellite launching business, 52 years after it lost its long range ballistic missiles and satellite launchers to the air force. The army is developing a nano-satellite for deploying quick satellite communications capability in out-of-the-way places (like Africa, for example). The new system would use a swarm of five pound satellites, launched using retired, and refurbished, Minuteman rockets, or other commercial rockets. The army wants the capability to get such an swarm of communications nano-sats in orbit on short notice, to support an emergency operation in any part of the planet that is poorly served by military satellites, or only covered by commercial birds.

Although the army had taken the lead in developing ballistic missiles after World War II, the new U.S. Air Force (created in 1947 by separating the U.S. Army Air Force from the army). The new air force proceeded to demand control over all long range missile projects (and even went after naval aviation for a while.) By 1956, the army had lost the Pentagon battles, and with it went its missiles and fixed wing aircraft. But the army never forgot, and never stopped fighting for its share of the sky.


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