Author: Apogee

APOGEE STAFF Starting with Australia in 2013, the Pentagon has signed deals with more than 30 nations to share information about what’s up there circling the Earth. These space situational awareness (SSA) agreements, written in the carefully crafted legal language of “whereas” and “therefore,” typically address space launches, avoiding collisions, and objects dropping out of orbit. But the enduring value of an SSA agreement may lie more in the handshake than in the specific provisions of the nine-page document. Space defense leaders have described these bilateral deals as a gateway to a deeper space security relationship with the United States,…

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No one can own it, which drives cooperation, competition APOGEE STAFF The People’s Republic of China (PRC) fired off a letter to the United Nations in December 2021 complaining it had been forced to maneuver its newly occupied space station twice in four months to avoid colliding with two Starlink satellites, part of the constellation launched by United States-based SpaceX to bring the internet to underserved areas of the globe. The world needs to know about this Starlink “phenomena,” the PRC wrote, because under terms of the U.N.’s Outer Space Treaty — the internationally recognized guiding principle for all human…

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APOGEE STAFF U.S. Space Force is getting new tools suitable for war gaming, mission planning and designing satellite constellations as part of a program to incorporate private sector innovation into the training of warfighters. Slingshot Aerospace Inc., which specializes in situational awareness technology, will deliver to Space Force its Slingshot Orbital Laboratory (SOLab) and Digital Modeling and Advance Visualization Environment (DMAVE) under a $25.2 million, 39-month contract with the service’s Space Systems Command (SSC) and SpaceWERX. “Slingshot’s space education and simulation products have garnered support from across the Space Force operational and acquisition community as we see tremendous value in…

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APOGEE STAFF The U.S. military needs faster, more powerful, more versatile forms of propulsion to operate beyond Earth’s orbit, so the U.S. Department of Defense has turned to two companies developing promising nuclear technologies. According to the website of the Pentagon’s Defense Innovation Unit (DIU), the goal is to launch the distinct prototypes designed by Ultra Safe Nuclear and Avalanche Energy in 2027. “Nuclear tech has traditionally been government-developed and -operated, but we have discovered a thriving ecosystem of commercial companies, including startups, innovating in space nuclear,” said U.S. Air Force Maj. Ryan Weed, program manager for DIU’s Nuclear Advanced…

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APOGEE STAFF The European Commission is working with a company based in New Zealand and the United States to develop “‘green”’ in-space propulsion technology to replace hydrazine-based systems over concerns about toxicity. The commission, which is the governing body of the European Union, classifies hydrazine as a substance of very high concern.  The company, Dawn Aerospace, said its propulsion technology will have the size and performance of hydrazine-based systems but without the toxicity, supply chain or regulatory risks. The commission’s European Innovation Council (EIC) Accelerator program awarded Dawn $1.52 million to develop its alternative propellant. “As it currently stands, hydrazine…

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Its leader status makes the country a target for adversaries, intelligence report says APOGEE STAFF The way the United States has leveraged outer space to achieve its military goals helps explain the chief threats the country faces from the domain, now, and in the future. Adversaries, chiefly the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and Russia, have redoubled their efforts in recent years to match and exceed U.S. capabilities in space.  That’s one conclusion from a Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) analysis titled “Challenges to Security in Space,” released in April 2022 as an update to the first space-security report issued by…

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Few seek to partner with them, so Russia, PRC draw closer in space APOGEE STAFF Despite their shared roots in Marxist-Leninist ideology, Russia and the People’s Republic of China (PRC) have clashed through the decades over issues including borders and how to advance communism. But even as each nation presses its own vision for regional and world order, they are pulling together in their determination to eclipse the United States in global influence. They have come to recognize that one path toward this goal takes them through outer space. The result is a modern-day space race reminiscent of the 1950s…

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APOGEE STAFF U.S. allies Japan, Australia and the Republic of Korea reiterated their commitment to cooperate in space and showcased their respective new space defense organizations at meetings with U.S. Army Gen. James H. Dickinson,  then head of U.S. Space Command. The visits in 2022 coincided with several space-related events, including the biennial Air and Space Power Conference in Australia and the activation of both the Space Operations Group in Japan and the Defence Space Command in Australia. It was clear from speeches and public accounts of the meetings that the development of U.S. Space Command and the U.S. Space…

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APOGEE STAFF Israel has recognized the achievements of the spy satellite program known as Horizon, or Ofek in Hebrew, with the Israel Security Award for 2022. The honor was bestowed by Israeli President Yitzhak Herzog during a ceremony in June 2022 at the President’s House in Jerusalem.  Ofek 16, the latest in a series of Ofek military reconnaissance satellites, was launched in June 2020. Ofek was Israel’s first satellite, deployed in 1988 from the Palmachim Air Force Base south of Tel Aviv, and since then, Israel has grown into a significant player within the commercial space industry. The country also…

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APOGEE STAFF The commander of the Indian Air Force said the nation should seek partnerships with commercial enterprises to advance its military and civilian space goals. Air Chief Marshal Vivek Ram Chaudhari told a geospatial intelligence conference in New Delhi in June 2022 that he sees India’s joint-service Defence Space Agency playing a leading role in the fusion of civil and military interests to develop space capability, according to BW Businessworld. “This would mandate an increased interplay with both government and commercial space agencies,” Chaudhari said.  His comments came on the heels of a call by Prime Minister Narendra Modi…

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