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  US Air Force's Geosynchronous Space SA System

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Author Topic:   US Air Force's Geosynchronous Space SA System
Robert Pearlman
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From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 02-23-2014 11:11 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The U.S. Air Force is planning to launch two new and previously classified space situational awareness satellites into geosynchronous orbit this year, Aviation Week reports, citing Gen. William Shelton, who leads Air Force Space Command.
The spacecraft were developed covertly by the Air Force and Orbital Sciences under the Geosynchronous Space Situational Awareness Program (GSAP), according to service officials.

The first two spacecraft will be boosted this year with two more to follow in 2016 to prevent a gap in surveillance on activities in the geosynchronous belt, Shelton said at the annual Air Force Association Air Warfare Symposium in Orlando. This is where commercial satellite communications are based, as well as critical national security assets such as the Space-Based Infrared System (Sbirs) early missile warning system and Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF) constellation designed to provide jam-proof communications for the president even during a nuclear event.

"One cheap shot" against Sbirs or AEHF would be "devastating" to the Pentagon's capabilities, Shelton said of a potential anti-satellite attack.

The two GSAP satellites will "drift" above and below the GEO belt, using electro-optical sensors to collect information on satellites and other objects in that region, Shelton said. They will be maneuverable, allowing them to be "tasked," much like reconnaissance aircraft, to collect intelligence on specific targets, he said. The satellites will provide "accurate tracking and characterization" of satellites, according to an Air Force fact sheet released after Shelton's speech here.

The article notes that declassification was cleared, in part, to provide a deterrent effect to adversaries.

All times are CT (US)

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