Space intelligence platforms and space exploration

New Wireless Tech Jams GPS

By Colin Clark on Thursday, February 17th, 2011

New Wireless Tech Jams GPS

UPDATED: With LightSquared Company Comments

ORLANDO– Deputy Defense Secretary Bll Lynn has raised concerns with the Federal Communications Commission about a new technology used by a company called Light Squared that jams both military and civilian GPS signals. The Federal Aviation Administration shares the Pentagon’s worries. Air Force Gen. William Shelton, head of Air Force Space Command, disclosed the Pentagon and FAA’s concerns at the Air Force Association winter conference today.

DoD Budget: The Week Ahead

By Colin Clark on Sunday, February 13th, 2011

DoD Budget: The Week Ahead

Monday is budget day. At 2 p.m. Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Adm. Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs, will begin unveiling details of what will doubtless be one of the most contentious defense budgets since the Clinton administration. Each service and the Missile Defense Agency unveils its budget and answers reporters questions after that. […]

Carter Signals OKs for Smaller Mergers

By Colin Clark on Wednesday, February 9th, 2011

Carter Signals OKs for Smaller Mergers

New York – The Pentagon’s top weapons buyer, Ash Carter, told a room full of Wall Street investors and defense industry leaders that he and his boss are likely to offer regulatory smiles to mergers involving among smaller defense companies, and, especially mid-tier service providers. This is, Carter made clear, not an event akin to the famous Last Supper, where Defense Secretary Les Aspin told the defense industry it was going to merge and that many of the 15 industry chieftains in the room that night in 1993 would not have a company to lead in the near future.

Senators Warn Clinton On Space Code

By Colin Clark on Friday, February 4th, 2011

Senators Warn Clinton On Space Code

A solid group of 37 Republican senators, led by Sen. Jon Kyl, tell Secretary of State Hillary Clinton they must be told whether the Obama administration plans to negotiate and sign on to a Code of Conduct for Outer Space Activities. The Feb. 2 letter says the senators are “deeply concerned” the administration may pursue an agreement they fear poses “a multitude of potential highly damaging implications for sensitive military and intelligence programs… as well as a tremendous amount of commercial activity.”

Senate Bows To Obama on Earmarks

By Colin Clark on Wednesday, February 2nd, 2011

Senate Bows To Obama on Earmarks

UPDATED: “A Big Capitulation;” Watch Election Contributions

When President Obama threatened in his State of the Union speech to veto any bill containing earmarks, several people I spoke with later snickered. How is this relatively inexperienced former senator going to put the kibosh on one of the Hill’s most treasured rights. Then our world tipped slightly yesterday with word that Sen. Daniel Inouye, one of the most respected and powerful members of Congress and chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, announced what he called an “earmark moratorium.”

Weather Sat Program Slammed

By Colin Clark on Tuesday, February 1st, 2011

Weather Sat Program Slammed

The White House, Congress NASA, NOAA, Defense Department and prime contractor Northrup Grumman failed time and again in their management and oversight of the multi-billion dollar weather satellite program known as NPOESS. The failures led to billions of dollars in cost overruns, schedule delays and scarred the space acquisition community for years.

Majority Sez Cut DoD, Not Entitlements

By Colin Clark on Friday, January 21st, 2011

Majority Sez Cut DoD, Not Entitlements

A majority of the American public wants budget cuts to come from the Defense Department budget, not from Medicare or Social Security, according to a new poll. The poll asked: “If you had to choose one, which would you be willing to change in order to cut government spending.”

Wanted: Space Strategy

By John Reed on Monday, December 13th, 2010

Wanted: Space Strategy

Aimed at reducing redundancy and guiding government agency policies and investments, the Secure World Foundation’s National Space Strategy Project seeks the establishment of a space strategy taking into account the nation’s military, civilian government and commercial space needs in a way that reflects the county’s overall strategic goals, said the project’s principal investigator Eligar Sadeh during a press conference today in Washington to unveil the project.

Big Prez Export Changes Not Likely

By Colin Clark on Friday, December 10th, 2010

Big Prez Export Changes Not Likely

The aerospace and defense industries continue pushing arms export reform hard but several well-place sources within the industry say very little change is likely to happen in the next year. In the latest thrust, President Obama announced the beginnings of a yet another review of the Munitions List, which describes which weapons and parts are subject to the control of the State Department, and of the Department of Commerce’s version.

What Could X-37B Do?

By Colin Clark on Friday, December 3rd, 2010

What Could X-37B Do?

The wonderfully sort-of-secret X-37B is back on terra firma after a long stay in space. Very little information beyond its appearance, dimensions and the fact that the Air Force is deploying it is known about the vehicle, which looks a lot like a mini space shuttle. The vehicle can stay in orbit for at least nine months. Is it a sensor platform, a mobile satellite launcher, or…?

DoD Budget Strategy Shredded

By Colin Clark on Friday, December 3rd, 2010

DoD Budget Strategy Shredded

Cartwright Says Cuts Coming Defense Secretary Robert Gates’ budget strategy of deferring defense budget cuts by offering $100 billion in efficiencies looks to lie in tatters as pressure for Pentagon cuts rises to seemingly unstoppable levels. In the face of America’s fiscal strains, the nation must choose a new global strategy that better conforms to our ability to spend, three top defense experts argue. And the nation’s Nr. 2 uniformed officer says DoD is bracing for cuts.

Space Agencies Join For Savings

By Colin Clark on Thursday, December 2nd, 2010

Space Agencies Join For Savings

America’s top four space agencies — NASA, the NRO, Space and Missile Systems Command and the Missile Defense Agency — are joining together to improve how they design, buy and build launchers, sensors and satellites. The memorandum of understanding — signed so far by the spy satellite builders and operators at NRO and the SMC folks — will help them share information and work together.

Military Pay Freeze Floated

By Colin Clark on Tuesday, November 30th, 2010

Military Pay Freeze Floated

In a call that may well tip the scales in favor of serious cuts to the entire defense budget, senior House Democrat Steny Hoyer called today for active duty troops to take a pay freeze, just as their civilian counterparts will. Hoyer, the outgoing Majority Leader, offered an olive branch to those who might oppose the whole idea of a pay freeze for those who wear the uniform. He said he would exempt those deployed to combat zones.

Warren Mishap No Bar To START

By Colin Clark on Tuesday, November 9th, 2010

Warren Mishap No Bar To START

“My sense is that the START Treaty ought to be ratified and ought to be ratified as soon as possible.” Those are the words of one of America’s most experienced and respected nuclear arms experts, Air Force Lt. Gen. Frank G. Klotz, who also happens to be the man in charge of protecting, arming and delivering the Air Force’s share of nuclear weapons.

US Warns PRC of Anti-Sat Debris

By Colin Clark on Friday, October 29th, 2010

US Warns PRC of Anti-Sat Debris

Earlier this month, the State Department learned that debris from the Chinese weather satellite destroyed in their 2007 anti-satellite test would be coming uncomfortably close to another — functioning — Chinese satellite. So, like any good neighbor, State told China about the possibility of a collision. Did they listen?

Playing Piggyback in Space

By Josh Hartman on Monday, October 18th, 2010

Playing Piggyback in Space

Satellites are very expensive. The sensors on them are very expensive. Launching satellites is very expensive. One way the government has considered saving some of those costs is by piggybacking its sensors on commercial satellites. Known as hosted payloads, such packages have attracted considerable interest from the government. Josh Hartman, who was one of the Pentagon’s top space acquisition officials and is now with the Center for Strategic Space Studies, offers a step-by-step approach to get both sides closer to their goal.

DoD Must Share The Pain

By William D. Hartung on Wednesday, October 6th, 2010

DoD Must Share The Pain

The battle of the budget has been fully joined by the ideologues of the Democrats and Republicans this week. On the right, we have Monday’s op-ed in the Wall Street Journal by Arthur Brooks, Edwin Feulner and the redoubtable William Kristol in which they argue that the defense budget must not pay for the deficit. Now, on the left, we bring you the views of William Hartung of the New America Foundation. He has aimed high, for almost $1 trillion in cuts. We’ll see if this debate spreads beyond the Beltway and into the conversations of decent people over the dinner table and in bars.

On the Phone, Then Boom!

By Colin Clark on Monday, September 27th, 2010

On the Phone, Then Boom!

You’re a terrorist, dining with your paramour in a comfortable desert hideaway and one of your terrorist lieutenants calls with an operations update. Bored, your paramour rings her mother to complain about Abdul al Qaeda’s overweening focus on work. About 15 minutes later you hear a noise, look out the window and the next thing you know, you’re dead. That is a plausible scenario for the near future if the National Reconnaissance Office and its intelligence colleagues are able to further refine the accuracy of geolocation data and combine it with signals intelligence to allow such strikes.

Rumor: Fraser Tops For AF Chief

By Colin Clark on Friday, September 24th, 2010

Rumor: Fraser Tops For AF Chief

Three sources with access to senior Air Force officials say Air Combat Command’s Gen. William Fraser is the odds-on choice to replace Gen. Norton Schwartz as Air Force Chief of Staff. Fraser can operate in two of the service’s three domains, space and air, and he knows the often exquisitely complicated and sensitive issues surrounding the Air Force’s relationship with the intelligence community.

Space Tracking Not Good Enough

By Colin Clark on Wednesday, September 15th, 2010

Space Tracking Not Good Enough

When the Chinese J-12 satellite kissed another in orbit and raised alarms across the space community– was this an anti-satellite test — the event also raised questions about whether and when the U.S. knew it happened. “In general terms I am not satisfied with either the timeliness or quality or comprehensiveness of our space situational awareness.,” said Gen. Bob Kehler, head of Air Force Space Command.

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