SDA the Earth will be filled with military satellites in low orbit

Sometime next March, a network of 10 small satellites with winged solar panels is scheduled to launch into low Earth orbit.

Although they will likely be invisible to the naked eye, the satellites will be part of a future "flock" of hundreds of others that the Space Development Agency, or SDA, says will bolster the United States' defense capabilities.

earth satellites

Η SDA, established in 2019, is an agency under the United States Space Force (United States Space Force), of the newly created military department that functions to protect US materials in space. Its goal is to change the way the military acquires and manages its space infrastructure. For example, the upcoming satellite network, called the National Defense Space Architecture, will collectively collect and broadcast information, track missiles and help target weapons, among other things.

SDA's vision mimics and builds on changes that began years ago in the commercial sector: clusters of inexpensive small satellites, rather than thousands, that together will accomplish much more than fewer large, expensive satellites.

Such sets of small satellites will be called constellations and will be in low Earth orbit, 1.200 miles or even lower than the Earth's surface. They will be able to send data back and forth quickly and will be relatively cheap spacecraft that can be replaced and updated regularly. They will be hard to beat, as it is harder to take down a flock of pigeons than a large turkey.

The first National Defense Space Architecture spacecraft will launch from Vandenberg Space Base, as part of the so-called Tranche 0 projet, which will eventually consist of 28 interconnected satellites. The launch was originally scheduled for September 2022, then was delayed to December due to supply chain issues and delayed again until March to fix some malfunctioning power supplies on eight of the satellites.

Now that the military has begun to blaze that trail, it will face the same challenges that the commercial sector has faced: crowded orbits, potential collisions, and a sky filled with complex electromagnetic signals. Military and intelligence satellites are not as numerous as commercial ones, and astronomers have not given them the attention they deserve. However, the increased motion will lead to orbital emissions that may interfere with scientific research and create an increased chance of collisions.

Even so, there are many who believe that the way we act in space should be the way we act on Earth: "Act responsibly, don't litter and pick up our trash." said Darren McKnight, senior technical associate at Leolabs, a private company that tracks objects in space.

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SDA, United States Space Force

Written by giorgos

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