The US military expands its reach into space

GIF: US Air Force Research Laboratory

Space is a busy place these days, and it is It will only get busier as more and more private companies and governments crowd the sky with satellites. In this new outlaw front, guards There is a need to keep things under control. Enter the Cislunar Highway Patrol System.

The US Air Force Research Laboratory recently released a video detailing its plans for observing the sky. He blasts off with a slightly ominous voice telling the viewer, So far, the US space mission has stretched 22,000 miles above Earth. It was then, and this is now. The Air Force Research Laboratory is expanding this range by 10 times, and the area of ​​operations in the United States by 1,000 times.”

Of course, this area is mostly empty of space, but winning is winning.

AFRL calls the Automated Space Cops a “Cislunar Highway Patrol System, or CHPS. Much like our CHPS, this satellite will be dedicated to monitoring the movement of satellites and space debris in order to minimize collisions. It likely won’t be able to do much about these collisions, but she It will enhance our ability to track objects beyond 22,000 miles that would normally be destined for most space traffic to the dark side of the Moon.

And there’s going to be a lot of far away stuff. The Moon is a place to happen again, as NASA plans to put an astronaut’s boots on Earth via the Artemis program, and eventually create a long-range base on the Moon, Hill reports. China and Russia share similar plans, and there are dozens of other missions planned in the next decade. Given the hostile relationship between the United States and these two countries, It is very likely that the CHPS will also be a tool in safeguarding national security. Ars Technica Talk to Brian Weeden, director of program planning at the Secure World Foundation, about the security aspect of such a system:

Weeden believes there is also another strategic component to this new program. He said military commanders are concerned about space objects being placed in lunar space by other governments and then being lost by current space situational awareness networks focusing on low Earth orbit and geostationary orbit.

He said such objects could swing around the moon and possibly return to attack a US satellite in geostationary space.

“I think this is a bit far-fetched, but it is possible from a physical perspective and would certainly exploit a gap in their current awareness of the space domain,” Weeden said. “I think they are much more concerned about that than any actual threats in lunar space because the United States does not have any military assets in lunar space at the moment.”

The CHPS satellite system is still so far into the future that Ars Technica reports that the AFRL is rolling out a call for prototype proposals next month, with the goal of awarding a contract by July.

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