Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Space The Military United States

$29M To Start US Satellite Protection Program 74

Posted by kdawson
from the space-race dept.
coondoggie sends in a Network World piece that begins "The Air Force laid out $29 million in contracts this week to build space-based sensors that could detect threats or hazards and protect satellites in orbit. Assurance Technologies and Lockheed Martin Space Systems will split $20 million of the two-year contract that the Air Force says should ultimately demonstrate a viable sensing capability, as well as integration with other space systems to offer threat and hazard detection, assessment and notification ... The Air Force is looking to protect satellites from ground based lasers or anti-satellite missiles mostly."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

$29M To Start US Satellite Protection Program

Comments Filter:
  • pew!! pew!!
    • Funny, my first thought was:

      "Is this any relation to Reagan asking the UN if (interplanetary) aliens might already be among us?"

    • by ravnous (301936)

      My first thought was:

      Some pushy salesman at Lockheed Martin wore down the Air Force about how wonderful the Satellite Protection program was. The Air Force stood there wondering whether it really needed the protection program, or whether it would take its chances, seeing how most of these protection programs are ripoffs.

      • by Narnie (1349029)

        Satellite Protection Program

        Is that anything like the mafia's fire insurance programs?

  • by Greyfox (87712) on Friday October 24, 2008 @04:36PM (#25502773) Homepage Journal
    Be a shame if something was to happen to it. (*Crash*) Whoops. How clumsy of me...
    • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Yeah, that was the sort of "protection" scheme I immediately thought of when I read the headline.

      Like if somebody (Russia, China) damages our satellites, we'll send Louie and the boys round and break their kneecaps...

    • That's a Nice Satellite There
      Be a shame if something was to happen to it. (*Crash*) Whoops. How clumsy of me...

      My laptop! [toshiba.com]

  • Seriously, George Lucas? More Star Wars?

    Give it a rest. Although, at least this one won't be a prequel.

    • Really, a ground based laser? What exactly can a satellite do in the 5 seconds between when the laser is turned on and when it is done burning a hole through the satellite?

      It has to be automatic, as it takes too long for the detection to signal to the ground, then for even a small group of humans to decide, yup, that's a problem, then send a signal back to work some kind of mirror into place.

      • What exactly can a satellite do in the 5 seconds between when the laser is turned on and when it is done burning a hole through the satellite?

        I dunno, maybe move? Asides from geosynchronous satelites (Which albeit are a sizable portion them) they are moving relative to earth, often quiet rapidly so, and you know have to take this very thin laser beam and hit this very small object and hold it there for a few seconds to do soem damage, to futher compound the problem the satelite could be setup to spin everything that doesn't need to be stationary, use a mesh for an antenna, and have a certain redundancy in the solar panels or use an RTG/Reactor.

        • by KGIII (973947) *

          missiles are definetly the way to go

          Yip. The U.S. Navy managed to paste [cnn.com] one earlier this year with a missle. Though it looks as if the US has been planing on anti-satellite lasers and China has been pointing lasers at US satellites in the not too distant past.

      • What exactly can a satellite do in the 5 seconds between when the laser is turned on and when it is done burning a hole through the satellite?

        If we put mirrors on it before hand, it could reflect the lasers back at the feet of the evildoers who were trying to destroy our satelites (and freedom) and could film them melting saying "NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOoooooooooooooooooooooooo!!!!" Then automatically upload it to youtube. I'd say that's worth 29 million.

  • $29 Million? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Entropy98 (1340659) on Friday October 24, 2008 @04:37PM (#25502787) Homepage

    $29 million doesn't buy much these days.
    --
      IP Finding [ipfinding.com]

    • Re: (Score:1, Offtopic)

      I can buy you 29 million of these [sciplus.com]. What more could you want?
    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by u4ya (1248548)
      you could fight a war in Iraq for about 2.5 hours http://www.nationalpriorities.org/costofwar_home [nationalpriorities.org]
    • Re:$29 Million? (Score:4, Informative)

      by MozeeToby (1163751) on Friday October 24, 2008 @05:16PM (#25503317)

      I was thinking the same thing. For 29 Million, you probably get a requirements document, a feasibility study to see if the idea is even workable, and maybe a high level architecture. If you hire a small, agile company (read: 'cheap') you might get some kind of small, proof of concept for one or two small parts of the system with the highest risk of failure.

      • by shakuni (644197)

        $ 80 M - budget for the Chandrayaan - India's moon mission. So 30M can get you a lot if used properly.

      • by joeljkp (254783)

        SSTL [sstl.co.uk] can design and build you two satellites for that price. I'm sure there are similar companies here in the US.

    • by Hojima (1228978)

      $29 million doesn't buy much these days.

      Define "much." Because this country has many people that truly can't buy "much" "these days". As soon as there's an eminent war with a global super power (because anything shorter of one wouldn't merit this program), I'm pretty sure a lot of us are going to look back and say "I wish all that money was spent on stabilizing our economy and international relations rather than on big guns for the pricks that started this conflict."

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by jlarocco (851450)

        Define "much." Because this country has many people that truly can't buy "much" "these days". As soon as there's an eminent war with a global super power (because anything shorter of one wouldn't merit this program), I'm pretty sure a lot of us are going to look back and say "I wish all that money was spent on stabilizing our economy and international relations rather than on big guns for the pricks that started this conflict."

        In case you missed it, they already tried spending over $800 billion dollars on

        • by skam240 (789197)

          Agreed. I'm a bit of a liberal and still loath the idea of bailing out people with no fiscal restraint and likewise believe that these types of programs are essential to our national security.

      • by bendodge (998616)

        The US (and any other Western country) can fix absolutely nothing if they loose their satellite network. We are completely dependent on satellites. The only news that could be better than this would be that somebody had decided to put some new life into SDI. (An EMP would be even worse than loosing satellites.)

    • It could buy you plenty of mirrors.

      (And don't tell me anything about how that wouldn't help, lasers would still heat it up, blah blah blah. I've heard that before and I still say the same thing: boring.)

  • No more orbiting in fear, wondering when you'll cross groundtracks with the wrong satellite.
  • the tagging system here.

    What's 'mafiaa' got to do with this?

    • by X0563511 (793323)

      Nothing at all. Indeed, that tag should not be present... but enough people have put it on there to make it stick?

    • As sharks.
    • by Narnie (1349029)
      This Satellite Protection Program prevents Assurance Technologies and Lockheed Martin Space Systems from using lasers or launching rockets into space and disabling satellites. Kind of like paying insurance to the mafia to prevent your business from burning down or from your legs from getting broken.
  • I have a hard time seeing how sensors are going to protect a satalite from an attack by lasers. Once the sensor detects the beam (somehow), it's too late to move the satalite, isnt it?

    • Re:laser protection? (Score:5, Informative)

      by wiggles (30088) on Friday October 24, 2008 @05:09PM (#25503225)

      If you had read the first paragraph of TFA, you would have read this:

      demonstrate a viable sensing capability, as well as integration with other space systems to offer threat and hazard detection, assessment and notification.

      In other words, it's not so much about protecting the satellite, but confirming that the satellite was or was not hit by some sort of laser. That would be some pretty valuable intelligence, if you ask me. The system will tell DOD that somebody's shooting at their stuff, not preventing someone from shooting at them.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by daveime (1253762)

      Not sure if these figures are 100%, but I understand that geo-stat orbit satellites are at a distance of 38,500km above the earths surface ... and speed of light is 299,792 km/s ... that surely gives them about 128 milliseconds to detect an incoming laser beam from initiation on earth to the target light hitting the satellite's detector.

      And as it would take at least ANOTHER 128 milliseconds to transmit that fact back to earth anyway, it means we'd only know about it 128 milliseconds after the thing had been

      • by Shatrat (855151)
        Just because we can't save the satellite being taken out doesn't mean that this technology is useless.
        Detection can be used to deploy countermeasures on other satellites, for example.
        So instead of losing 100 of them we only lose 1 or 2 and the others rotate 180 degrees to present a reflective shield or something while we hunt down and bomb whoever is lasing our sats.
        At the very least we could hunt them down and bomb them after the fact out of spite.
        • Unless they know about this detection system and decide to take them all out at once. How many countries that can build one of these can't build 20, 100, 1000 if they really want?
          • by Shatrat (855151)
            Maybe, but this is the strategy that bankrupted the Soviets.
            Now instead of building one big anti-satellite laser and knocking them out sequentially, they have to build many lasers and take them out in parallel.
            That equals time in which our satellites are safe, and more money out of any potential enemies pockets if they do decide to threaten our satellites.
            Also, who says it would be a country doing the shooting?
            It might be possible for a laser accurate and powerful enough to be built by a private party o
      • by zapakh (1256518)

        ... that surely gives them about 128 milliseconds to detect an incoming laser beam from initiation on earth to the target light hitting the satellite's detector.

        Right, because light travels faster than... light.

  • by nurb432 (527695)

    Sounds like the mob to me.

  • Instead of gov't funding such a socialist venture, I say use the market. Buy an insurance from a private enterprise, say AIG, because we all know that they're too big to fail.

    All you patriotic, Pro-America Americans would agree - LET THE MARKET DO ITS WORK. Say NO to commie schemes like this.

    :-)

    • I thought it said that the COMPANIES were funding for the GOV'T to do something, not the other way around... so... what's this have to do with anything communist like?
      • by oldhack (1037484)
        Um... I read Pentagon is funding research to be carried out by contractors. Lousy troll either way, though.
  • If dudes sitting in lawn chairs can chart the paths of satellites in the sky, then any competent hostile power can easily do the same. Lets face it, satellites are giant sitting ducks. If we get into a shooting war with a powerful nation the first thing to go will be all the satellites.
    • It is one thing to track something it is something different to hit a moving target. I know the US, Russia, and China can do this. However if a system can track an incoming missile what prevents the satellite from simply firing its thrusters and moving out of the way? Its not like the missile can turn very easily or maybe not the current generation of anti-satellite missiles.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by cowscows (103644)

      I agree. I think a much more useful line of research is making satellites harder to detect. There's not much that can be done to protect the big bright ones that are already up there, but I'd imagine that better technology has resulted in more capable satellites in smaller packages. Add in some fancy stealth-type technologies, and now we're talking.

    • ...first thing to go will be all the satellites.

      No GPS sats? My iPhone will still triangulate from the cell towers!
      So bring on WW3, I'm protected by the blessings of Saint Jobs!

  • I guess someone had the same (lame, Friday-afternoon) reaction I did to the headline:

    "Nice lookin' satellite you got there! Shame if something should happen to it! Ain't that right, Vinny?"

  • I would like to see what "detection, assessment and notification" of a laser attack entails.
  • by toby (759) *
    Isn't that all that's needed to defeat a ground based laser?
  • "Nice satellite you got here... be a shame if anything should happen to it!"
    Wait, you mean that's not the kind of "Protection Service" we're talking about?
  • retroreflectors (Score:3, Interesting)

    by at10u8 (179705) on Friday October 24, 2008 @06:03PM (#25503937)
    For some satellites hitting them with ground-based lasers [wikipedia.org] is the whole point of their existence.
  • While this is interesting, I'd always thought about an orbital space city rather than a space station or satellites as the more interesting venture. The downsides fall toward expense and crazy scientists thinking they understand Earth's ecology better because they can develop a man-made ecosystem.

    Consider first several small, modular bays in high orbit. Each is self-contained and can internally rotate for artificial gravity. Assuming horizontal rotation, "up" is the convergence toward the center verti

  • Reimplement the machine gun design for one of the early manned recon satellites. It had radar and eyeball sensors.
  • So much for... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by DeadPixels (1391907)
    ...the treaties against the "militarization of space." Seems like it might not be long until we've got people blowing up each others' satellites left and right.
  • This is exactly the kind of crap the US needs to stop wasting money on.

  • I happen to know that a similar program aimed specifically tracking missiles from space has been underway for at least two years with a seperate favorite defense contractor in the desert. The working project title sent chills down my spine, but it's only an orbital tracker that relays to ground missiles. (supposedly) Project "Exoatmospheric Kill Vehicle" or commonly referred to by its acronym.

"The Amiga is the only personal computer where you can run a multitasking operating system and get realtime performance, out of the box." -- Peter da Silva

Working...