Feeds

US space dirty-tricks spysat spying sat is go for July

Crafty Antipodean orbit shifts now harder to manage

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup

Important satellite taken out 'by accident'... it's happened already. Doubtless a coincidence

Thus there have been some efforts to fit satellites with subsidiary payloads that might allow them to know if they came under attack, and others intended to endow them with the ability to call home even where no suitable US military ground stations or relay sats are available.

Detail (not much) of the sensor fitted to the SBSS satellite. Credit: Ball Aerospace

As much detail as anyone's willing to let us see of the SBSS sensor.

The SBSS is supposed to go a step further, by placing a dedicated watcher satellite in a high orbit, able to scan the space above much of an entier hemisphere. The SBSS is equipped with "a digital sensor mounted on a high-speed gimbal", allowing it to quickly get a lock on an interesting spacecraft without needing to swivel the whole craft.

The overwatching SBSS could thus alert its Space Superiority controllers if it saw a foreign spy bird changing orbit for an unexpected run above Groom Lake, for instance. It could also track a potential sat-busting weapon as it snuck up on an unsuspecting, critical US asset: for instance a GPS nav-sat, or - just to pluck a situation from the air - an Iridium commercial comms platform of the sort sometimes so important to spooks, submarines, special-forces troops etc*. Funnily enough an Iridium bird was destroyed in a reportedly accidental collision with an old Russian sat just last year.

"The SBSS is ready to perform its mission in space," says Colonel J R Jordan, vice-commander of the Space Superiority Wing.

Deliberate meddling with another nation's satellites is of course totally forbidden by international agreement. Nonetheless it seems that the US intends to be ready for possible surreptitious violations.

There are even some indications that America might not be above a little bit of unattributable orbital naughtiness itself at some point in the future. ®

*The Iridium satcomms constellation is the only one that can be used without a correctly-oriented dish, ie by a small buoy released from a submarine, or a covert agent or spec-ops detachment far from normal comms facilities. Unsurprisingly Iridium was saved from commercial failure by the US government once it became clear that GSM roaming would be easier for ordinary folk to use.

Build a business case: developing custom apps

More from The Register

next story
Vulture 2 takes a battering in 100km/h test run
Still in one piece, but we're going to need MORE POWER
Boffins ID freakish spine-smothered prehistoric critter: The CLAW gave it away
Bizarre-looking creature actually related to velvet worms
TRIANGULAR orbits will help Rosetta to get up close with Comet 67P
Probe will be just 10km from Space Duck in October
ANU boffins demo 'tractor beam' in water
The current state of the art, apparently
China to test recoverable moon orbiter
I'll have some rocks and a moon cheese pizza please, home delivery
What does a flashmob of 1,024 robots look like? Just like this
Sorry, Harvard, did you say kilobots or KILLER BOTS?
NASA's rock'n'roll shock: ROLLING STONE FOUND ON MARS
No sign of Ziggy Stardust and his band
Why your mum was WRONG about whiffy tattooed people
They're a future source of RENEWABLE ENERGY
Vulture 2 spaceplane autopilot brain surgery a total success
LOHAN slips into some sexy bespoke mission parameters
prev story

Whitepapers

Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Solving today's distributed Big Data backup challenges
Enable IT efficiency and allow a firm to access and reuse corporate information for competitive advantage, ultimately changing business outcomes.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.