US pushes next phase of satellite missile defense system

By Lindsay Clark,
Published by The Register, 4 April 2023

Agency asks for industry input into medium Earth orbit system

The US Space Systems Command (SSC) wants input from techies and the aerospace industry as it maps out the development of a new satellite-based missile detection and tracking system.

In a procurement notice published late last week, the Space Force agency said it was on the lookout for suppliers to help it scope and design the technology in stages it calls Epochs. The tender documents say it requires feedback on the second Epoch for a medium Earth orbit (MEO) satellite defence system.

“The [US] government is seeking this industry feedback to ultimately inform the MEO Epoch 2 acquisition strategy and technical approach… Each Epoch is expected to include at least one competitive award and allows for insertion of new technology, innovative solutions, and progressive or updated warfighter requirements to ultimately meet future capability needs,” the document says.

The second phase is set to focus on the technical maturity of sensors, optical satellite cross-links, data fusion, ground communications and constellation mission management, the procurement notice explains.

With the MEO initiative, the Space Force unit is looking to build on existing systems in geosynchronous orbit and low earth orbit.

In November last year, Boeing subsidiary Millennium Space Systems announced plans for a MEO system to detect and track hypersonic missiles after it won a 2021 contract in tandem with Raytheon.

A related design review [PDF] said the MEO systems would offer wider field of view and longer pass times over target areas than the LEO systems alone.

The existing Space Tracking and Surveillance System (STSS) implemented low Earth orbiter within the layered Ballistic Missile Defense System. It was designed to work with the geosynchronous Defense Support Program, the Space-Based Infrared System, among others.

In other space defence news, reports suggest that China has developed a power source that is compact and light enough to be fitted to satellites but powerful enough to power a microwave weapon capable of knocking out microprocessors in distant equipment. The South China Morning Post said the device might emit 10 gigawatts in 10 pulses per second, making it able to disable enemy drones, aeroplanes and other satellites.

In February, Chinese researchers mooted aggressive countermeasures against SpaceX’s Starlink satellite internet service. The study was an effort to figure out how China could get itself on the same strategic footing as the USA in terms of space constellations.

See: Original Article