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Edited by
Dakota L. Wood


2018 by The Heritage Foundation

214 Massachusetts Ave., NE
Washington, DC 20002
(202) 546-4400 |
Space 201: Thinking About the Space
Dean Cheng

O ver the past three decades, the role of out-

er space in military operations has risen
steadily. From the inception of the space age,
information from satellites used to be closely
held, anyone can now purchase overhead im-
agery through companies like Digital Globe
Americas activities in space have included a and Skybox. Similarly, whereas satellite po-
large national security component. The devel- sition, navigation, and timing (PNT) used to
opment of satellites was not only a matter of be employed primarily by military forces to
national prestige in the ideological competi- improve weapons accuracy, it is now incorpo-
tion of the Cold War, but also an effort to moni- rated as standard equipment in many private
tor military and other developments from the cars, and the timing function is employed in
strategic high ground of space. Many of the myriad activities from precision agriculture to
earliest satellites were engaged in the gather- reconciling financial transactions.
ing of intelligence. It is important to recognize that this massive
Due to their sensitive nature and the ad- expansion of the role of space is a relatively re-
vanced technologies associated with them, cent phenomenon. The space age itself is only

information derived from reconnaissance a half-century old, having begun on October 4,
satellites (sometimes termed national techni- 1957, with the launch of Sputnik by the USSR.1
cal means, or NTM) has generally remained Moreover, because space activities and space-
highly classified. Rumors have long abounded derived information have long been closely held
regarding the capabilities of American recon- secrets, their full potential for military and civil-
naissance satellites, for example, but little of ian applications has yet to be explored. Though
their actual resolution (what they were able to information from space systems has been em-
see on the surface of the planet) was revealed ployed in the wars of the past quarter-century,
during the Cold War. The end of the Cold War no nations have yet engaged in combat in space.
and the subsequent use of satellite imagery in Both the political and technical ramifications of
1991 during the first Gulf War pulled back many such a conflict are still largely theoretical.
of the curtains that had obscured the capabili-
ties and nature of reconnaissance satellites as Key Characteristics of Space
programs were declassified and images were Given the growing importance of space
disseminated more broadly. in security affairs, it is important to recog-
Space-based capabilities have also evolved nize certain key characteristics of the outer
from being oriented primarily toward meet- space domain.
ing national security requirements to increas- Characteristic #1: Space is beyond
ingly being part of global commerce. Where Earth. The outer space region is generally

The Heritage Foundation | 67

considered to begin somewhere between 100 orbiting objects can be seen, given a suitable
kilometers (62 miles) and 100 miles above the suite of sensors. At the same time, however,
surface of the Earth and extends from there. At this means that one must track several tens of
100 kilometers, aerodynamic forces have mini- thousands of objects in space, ranging from op-
mal impact on reentry vehicles; at 100 miles, erational and defunct satellites to spent upper
the atmosphere is no longer a meaningful pres- stages of rockets, loose nuts and bolts, and oth-
ence. While space theoretically encompasses er debris from past space missions. Today, the
the entire vastness of the cosmos, the militar- United States Air Force officially keeps track
ily significant region of space is that bounded of over 23,000 objects, which is by no means
by the EarthMoon area, as well as certain the totality of objects currently orbiting the
other locations governed by the EarthMoon Earth.3 To do so, it makes over 400,000 obser-
relationship. The latter include the Lagrange vations (determining where various objects are
points, the five points where the gravitational located) daily.4
pulls of the Earth, Moon, and Sun balance each Undertaking SSA is essential in part be-
other, thus making it possible for an object cause space objects may be mistaken for mis-
placed at one of these points to remain there siles; in order to prevent false alarms and pos-
indefinitely with minimal expenditure of fuel. sible inadvertent escalation, it is vital to track
Because space is literally beyond the Earth, at least the larger objects in orbit so that we can
it is not affected by terrestrial borders as is know what is normally in orbit and therefore
the case with airspace. Whereas the airspace what new object might warrant closer scrutiny.

(physical space within the atmosphere above Almost as important, tracking current objects
the boundaries of a nation) is considered the in space and determining their orbits is criti-
equivalent of sovereign territory, the same cal to preventing collisions between satellites,
does not apply once one enters outer space. preventing collisions between orbiting objects
Instead, spacecraft of all nations are allowed and spacecraft that are being launched, and
to transit freely overhead and have no obliga- determining whether space objects orbits are
tion to curtail their activities in doing so. (Re- decaying to the point that those objects may
alistically, such activities as satellite commu- reenter the Earths atmosphere.
nications and weather forecasting would be To maintain SSA, the United States (like
virtually impossible if there were a patchwork other nations) employs a variety of means. A
of sovereignty governing outer space as there vital tool is a network of radars. Some are con-
is on Earth.) Ironically, this principle of open ventional radars, which can track individual
skies was established when the Soviet Union targets. Others are large phased-array radars,
orbited its Sputnik spacecraft. The Soviets ar- which can track multiple objects simultane-
gued that Sputnik did not pass over countries; ously and maintain surveillance over large vol-
instead, countries rotated underneath the umes of space. In addition, there are many tele-
spacecraft.2 scopes that allow imaging of satellites, which
Because it is beyond Earth, outer space is in turn allows analysts to determine the likely
also not affected by considerations of terrain. functions of a given satellite more precisely. All
There are no features in space (at least within of these are ground-based systems.
the EarthMoon system) that provide con- Since 2014, the United States has also de-
cealment or otherwise can mask spacecraft ployed a series of satellites that allow it to ex-
operations. Therefore, there is no real ability amine satellites from orbit. The Geosynchro-
for spacecraft to hide. nous Space Situational Awareness Program
Counterintuitively, this set of consider- (GSSAP) comprises a number of satellites de-
ations actually makes space situational aware- ployed in geosynchronous orbit.5 These carry
ness (SSA) a very complicated affair. Because electro-optical sensors that provide analysts
there is no place for satellites to hide, all with up-close pictures of objects in orbit.

68 2018 Index of U.S. Military Strength

Characteristic #2: Space is a hostile Global Positioning System (GPS) constella-
environment. The reaches of outer space are tion. When fielding of GPS began in the 1990s,
some of the most difficult environments in each satellite cost approximately $43 million,
which machines or people operate. Because and launch costs were about $55 million. In
spacecraft are operating under near-vacuum 2013, it was reported that the newest GPS III
conditions, gases that are trapped in the mate- satellites would cost $500 million each and
rial of a spacecraft may be emitted in a process $300 million per launch.11
known as outgassing. These gases, in turn, can Given the expense, few states can afford to
condense on the surfaces of a spacecraft, dam- develop, launch, and operate satellites, much
aging components, clouding lenses and sensors, less maintain reserve satellites, either in orbit
or otherwise adversely affecting the spacecraft. or on the ground. A satellite that is lost due to
Because spacecraft operate beyond the a malfunction, collision, or other problems
protection of Earths atmosphere, they are ex- therefore cannot be replaced easily. There
posed to a variety of forms of radiation, includ- will likely be gaps in service or coverage un-
ing cosmic rays, solar radiation, and even radi- til a replacement satellite can be built and
ation belts that encircle the Earth (for example, launched. Augmenting a constellation is also
the Van Allen radiation belts). Prolonged expo- not something that can be done either easily
sure to ultraviolet radiation can alter the prop- or inexpensively.
erties of various materials. Spacecraft are also For these reasons, it is in the interest of sat-
subjected to wild variations in temperature in ellite operators to have satellites last as long as
ranges of hundreds of degrees. This, in turn, possible. A satellite will typically carry enough
can lead to expansion and contraction of ma- fuel to enable orbital maneuvers. These range
terials and even to cold-welding of parts. from station-keeping in order to stay in the
Finally, in addition to being potentially proper orbital track and location to altering
vulnerable to collision with other satellites the orbit in order to avoid collisions. Activi-
and any objects in orbit, spacecraft may be hit ties that adversely affect the life span of a sat-
by micrometeoroids.6 Everything in space is ellite (such as extensive maneuvering) are not
moving at very high speeds. Space debris, for undertaken lightly. In particular, changing a
example, typically moves at about 10 kilome- satellites orbital plane (angle relative to the

ters per second on average, which translates Earths equator) is very expensive in terms of
to roughly 22,000 mph.7 Even grains of sand fuel and is usually avoided.
traveling at such speeds can have an abrasive Characteristic #3: Space is difficult to
effect, and larger objects can damage solar pan- reach. Not only does it take time to build a
els and instrument packages. satellite; it also takes time and a great deal of
In order to operate in such a hostile envi- infrastructure and related expense to launch
ronment, spacecraft must be manufactured it. Various capabilities are necessary to place
to very high tolerances. Many are practically an object into orbit. One must have a satellite
hand-made, which makes them very expensive. and a launch vehicle. That vehicle is launched
A commercial communications satellite costs from some kind of facility that has a launch
at least $200 million.8 Military communica- pad, a mission-control facility, and surveil-
tions satellites such as the Wideband Global lance equipment with which to monitor and
Satcom satellite cost upwards of $400 million control the launch. There is usually an assem-
each.9 Dedicated reconnaissance satellites (spy bly or mating facility for placing the satellite
satellites) can cost over $1 billion. Reported- payload on the rocket. Finally, other tracking
ly, the overall cost for four new U.S. GOES-R sites are necessary to ensure that the payload
weather satellites will be $11 billion.10 has reached the proper orbit, has separated
The steady increase in the cost of from the launching rocket, and is functioning
satellites is reflected in the American properly after it has entered orbit.

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All of these elements combine to make
space operations expensive.12 Until quite re-
cently, only major countries could afford space Types of Earth Orbits
operations, but private companies have en-
tered the market. Geosynchronous Orbit
22,000+ miles above Earth
The differences among these major space Here an objects speed matches the
launch providers are the result of a number of Earths rotation, causing satellites
factors, the most important of which is reliabil- effectively to stay over the same
ity of launch. This is no small affair when satel- line of longitude on the Earths
lite payloads cost hundreds of millions or even
billions of dollars. ULA has perhaps the longest
track record of successful launches. SpaceX, a
competing private venture, is the newest en-
Medium Earth Orbit
trant and therefore does not yet have an estab- 1,20022,000 miles
lished track record, making its reliability more Relatively few satellites
of an unknown. operate in this band
because it contains the Van
Allen radiation belts, which
Types of Orbits13 can significantly affect
While there is no terrain in space, there are satellite operations.
orbital bands that are loosely defined by their

altitude above the Earths surface. There is

22,000 miles
no clear demarcation among them, but space 1,200 iles
experts in general talk about three main or-

bital bands.
Low Earth Orbit (LEO). This is the part
of outer space that begins at about 100 miles Low Earth Orbit
1001,200 miles
above the Earth and extends to 1,200 miles. A Various types of satellites
variety of satellites populate this band, includ- populate this band. Because
ing various types of reconnaissance and Earth it is closer to Earth, a satellite
observation satellites, some weather satel- here can see smaller objects
than can a comparably
lites, and various scientific satellites. Because equipped satellite at
it is closer to Earth, a satellite in LEO can see a higher altitude.
smaller objects than a comparably equipped
satellite at a higher altitude can.
However, satellites in LEO have a more lim-
ited field of view. They are essentially viewing
a ribbon of the Earths surface as they orbit SOURCE: Heritage Foundation research.

around the planet.14 The closer to Earth, the

narrower the ribbon, much as a flashlights
area of illumination shrinks or expands the
closer to or farther away it gets from the spot a given spot every few hours. Multiple satel-
at which it is pointed. Moreover, because of or- lites in a constellation can keep a given spot on
bital mechanics, an object in LEO cannot hover Earth under constant surveillancebut at the
over a given point unless it uses an enormous cost of fielding multiple satellites.
amount of fuel to stay in position. Therefore, Objects in LEO also have a more limited life
satellites in this orbital band cannot maintain span. Though they are operating above the bulk
surveillance over any particular point on Earth. of Earths atmosphere, they nonetheless are
Instead, any individual satellite will pass over still operating within its upper reaches. This

70 2018 Index of U.S. Military Strength

imposes atmospheric drag so that their orbit to the Earths equator, essentially traveling
drops (or decays) over time. At 150 km altitude, from pole to pole. Polar orbiting satellites will
a satellite begins to lose altitude within a day; typically see the same spot on Earth twice a day,
at 400 km, it could remain in orbit for a year once in daylight and once at night. A particular
before its orbit began to decay appreciably.15 type of polar orbit is the sun-synchronous or-
Medium Earth Orbit (MEO). This region bit. A satellite in such an orbit will always pass
stretches from 1,200 miles to 22,000 miles over the same spot on Earth at the same time.
above the Earths surface. Relatively few satel- If it takes images while passing overhead, the
lites operate in this band, partly because it also fact that the images are taken at the same time
contains the Van Allen radiation belts, which every day facilitates the identification of any
can affect satellite operations significantly. changes that may have occurred on the ground
Within this band, however, is an area where in the interval between images.
a satellite will revolve around the Earth in 12 Lagrange Points. At the five Lagrange
hours, going over the same spot twice every points, the Earth, Moon, and Suns gravita-
day. Satellites orbiting at approximately 12,800 tional pulls cancel out each other. As a result,
miles above the Earths surface are said to be an object located at these points will remain in
in semi-synchronous orbit. the same location relative to the Earth even as
Most of the satellites that operate in semi- the EarthMoon system and the satellite itself
synchronous orbits are involved with position- revolve around the Sun.
ing, navigation, and timing. These include the Molniya Orbits. Satellites operating in
American GPS satellites and their Russian geosynchronous orbit over the equator stay
GLONASS, European Galileo, and Chinese over the same spot, but their ability to view
Beidou/Compass counterparts. the extreme northern and southern latitudes
Geosynchronous Orbit (GEO). The geo- is very limited. Russian scientists therefore
synchronous belt is at approximately 22,000 developed the Molniya orbit, where satellites
miles above the Earths surface. At that altitude, orbit as high as 24,000 miles at their apogee
an object in orbit is traveling at a speed that or highest point while dipping as low as 500
matches the Earths rotation. Consequently, a miles above the Earths surface at their low-
satellite will effectively stay over the same line est point.

of longitude on the Earths surface, although Because the Molniya orbit also has a period
it may drift north or south in terms of its foot- of 12 hours, the high-altitude portion of the or-
print on Earth. If a satellite is located at the bit will occur over the same area of Earth twice
GEO belt at the Earths equator, however, it each day. Moreover, due to the momentum of
will stay over the same location on the ground the satellite, most of the time when it is mov-
and is said to be geostationary. ing more slowly will be near the top of its orbit.
Theoretically, satellites in a geostationary For most satellites in a Molniya orbit, the top of
orbit can keep constant watch over one-third the orbit will be in the Northern Hemisphere,
of the Earths surface. Consequently, this or- maximizing the opportunity to observe areas
bital band is considered extremely valuable; of interest in the high northern latitudes.
GEO slots above the equator are occupied by
weather satellites, communications satellites, Major Satellite Missions
and missile early warning satellites. According to the United Nations Office for
In addition to these three orbital bands, Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA), more than
there are several other types of orbits that are 7,600 registered objects (a subset of the more
militarily useful. than 23,000 that are tracked) are currently in
Polar and Sun-Synchronous Orbits. orbit around the Earth.16 Of these, only about
Some satellites are launched into low Earth or- 1,460 are operational satellites.17 These satel-
bits that are at a very high inclination relative lites are engaged in a number of mission areas.

The Heritage Foundation | 71


Lagrange Points 4

Lagrange Points are

five locations where
the gravitational pulls
from the Earth, Moon,
and Sun cancel each
other out. As a result,
an object located at 3 Sun 1 2
any of these points will
remain in the same
location relative to the
Earth, even as the
Earth-Moon system
and the satellite itself
revolve around the Sun. 5

SOURCE: Heritage Foundation research.

Intelligence, Surveillance, and Recon- SIGINT satellites can provide insight into the
naissance (ISR) Satellites. Satellites tasked types of equipment (such as radars) being de-
with monitoring developments in other coun- ployed by countries of interest, with the infor-
tries have been a mainstay of space capabilities mation collected revealing the wavelengths
since the dawn of the space age. Both the United the equipment houses and what types of units
States and the Soviet Union sought to develop (such as anti-aircraft batteries and anti-ship
spy satellites capable of seeing into the other missile forces) are being deployed.
sides hinterlands. These satellites were initially Most ISR satellites operate in LEO.
equipped with cameras that dropped film, but Earth Observation and Weather Satel-
those cameras were later replaced with systems lites. Not all information collection is neces-
that could beam their images back directly to sarily focused on other countries military and
Earth-based stations. Electro-optical satellites political forces and behavior. Understanding
are unable to see through fog and clouds, so the local environment can also be important.
some satellites carry radars to overcome the Earth observation satellites such as the
effects of obscuring by clouds; these can often Landsat series have been collecting informa-
produce very high resolution images. tion about the land and seas for decades. The
Imaging satellites of various sorts have been resulting data are invaluable for creating maps,
supplemented by satellites that can monitor as well as for understanding, for example, land
various types of activities in the electromag- use and seasonal changes in ground cover like
netic spectrum. Some listen to radio traffic, tree foliage and grasses. For both ISR and Earth
collecting communications intelligence (CO- observation, data from space sensors are com-
MINT). Others are able to detect and record bined with information gathered from aircraft
electronic signals, collecting electronic intelli- and terrestrial sources to give a comprehensive,
gence (ELINT). COMINT and ELINT together layered understanding of any spot or vertical
are referred to as signals intelligence (SIGINT). column above the ground on the planet.

72 2018 Index of U.S. Military Strength

or from a land base, is affected by inclement
weather conditions. Aircraft launched from an
Molniya Orbit airbase in the United States may have to fly to a
destination thousands of miles away. Knowing
50024,000 miles above weather conditions along the route is essential
Earths surface to safe and effective operations, whether they
involve military or civilian aircraft. The better
ones understanding of weather information
Russian scientists developed the is, the lower the risk that one has to accept to
Molniya orbit to maximize carry out a mission.
the opportunity to 7 Possessing better awareness of weather
observe areas of conditions than is possessed by ones opponent
8 5 can confer important operational advantages.
interest in the
high northern This was the case in June 1944 when Allied
meteorologists, unlike their German counter-
latitudes. 9 4 parts, identified an impending lull in storms
that were battering the English Channel. Con-
sequently, the Allies landed on the beaches of
3 Normandy on June 6, while the German high
10 command presumed that storms made such an
invasion impossible.
Most Earth observation satellites operate in
LEO. Some weather satellites operate in LEO,
2 and others are deployed in GEO.
Communications Satellites. One of the
earliest commercial types of satellites was the
communications satellite (comsat). Because
1 (time in hours)
radio, television, and other communications
signals travel in straight lines, their ability to

connect users on the ground is often limited
by the horizon. Comsats essentially serve as
relays for the transmission of these signals; a
transmitter sends a signal to the communica-
12 tions satellite in orbit, which then transfers
the signal to a ground station that may be well
beyond the horizon of the original transmit-
SOURCE: Heritage Foundation research.
ter. Theoretically, a constellation of three comsats at GEO would be sufficient to provide
global coverage. In reality, the availability of
transponders (which are the actual relays)
Of particular security importance among limits the ability of any given satellite to pro-
the Earth observation satellites are weather vide coverage.
satellites. The ability to forecast weather ac- Modern communications satellites are
curately can have a decisive impact on military an important link in the movement of voice
operations. Amphibious operations, for ex- communications, television signals, and data
ample, can be badly disrupted by storms. Sim- (including Internet traffic). With the growing
ilarly, the ability to undertake air operations, popularity of satellite television and its poten-
whether launched from an aircraft carrier tial for entertainment and distance learning,

The Heritage Foundation | 73

there is a growing demand for comsat ser- from at least three and usually four satellites to
vices. In addition, communications satellites determine its distance from each satellite. This
are a key enabler for military drone opera- is done by comparing the time stamp signal
tions. From bases in the United States, opera- from each satellite (provided by the onboard
tors can fly drones halfway around the world atomic clock) with the signals from the others
only because they are able to access comsats in order to triangulate ones location. The re-
that bounce their instruction signals to their sult provides information in three dimensions
drones and relay information gathered by with accuracy down to a few feet if one is using
drone aircraft back to controlling or intelli- a cell phones GPS function to a few inches with
gence-processing stations. dedicated equipment. This is why a navigation
Many of the worlds communications satel- application on a phone, in ones car, or aboard
lites are run by private companies. Some of the a ship far out at sea is able to work.
worlds largest constellations, for example, are Because the PNT signal can be reached
now privately owned by companies such as In- worldwide and all the clocks in a given constel-
telsat (55 satellites in 2014); Eutelsat (34); and lation are keyed to the same system, the timing
the Canadian company Telesat (10).18 function has assumed a growing importance.
Many communications satellites are oper- American military frequency-hopping radios,
ated at GEO. However, the Iridium constella- for example, use the timing signal from GPS to
tion that provides global satellite phone ser- time their jumps from frequency to frequency.
vice is largely in LEO. Because of the smaller The U.S., Chinese, and European PNT con-

footprint for satellites operating at that alti- stellations are in MEO, although Chinas system
tude, more are needed to provide global cover- also includes a component that is based in GEO.
age; the Iridium constellation comprises some
66 satellites. Tracking, Telemetry, and Control
Position, Navigation, and Timing Satel- In order to ensure that the various satel-
lites. Beginning in the 1980s, the United States lites are operating properly, a satellite opera-
started to deploy satellites to provide position, tor needs a tracking, telemetry, and control
navigation, and timing information. (TT&C) network. This network enables the
operator to control the satellites functions.
Position provides information about ones
location and orientation: Where am I? Tracking refers to the ability to locate a
satellite and monitor its orbital condition
Navigation provides information linking and situation. This includes the satellites
ones location to a desired destination: distance and velocity.
How do I reach my intended location?
Telemetry is comprised of messages from
Timing provides precise, accurate time the satellite that provide the operator
information.19 with information about how well the
satellite is operating. It is typically broken
The position and navigation functions are down into information about each of the
outgrowths of the timing element. Timing satellites subsystems. Telemetry data are
functions on the GPS constellation are pos- distinct from payload data (the missions
sible due to the highly accurate atomic clocks that the satellite is performing). The for-
that are integrated into each satellite. mer is about the ability of the satellite to
Each PNT satellite provides a unique signal perform its mission.
indicating which satellite it is and what its or-
bital parameters are. A receiver (for example, a Control refers to the ability of the operator
Garmin receiver in a vehicle) decodes the signal to adjust the satellites operations. This

74 2018 Index of U.S. Military Strength

might involve reorienting onboard instru- constant stream of information. Similarly, they
ments such as cameras or the entire satel- have a range of communications options such
lite (for example, to point the spacecrafts as microwave, cell phones, and various types of
solar panels toward the Sun). It might radio systems to link their forces togetherop-
involve moving the satellite to a different tions often not available to U.S. forces because
orbit or requests for more telemetry data. of the distances involved when deploying from
home to far-flung theaters of operation.
TT&C networks often include stations in This asymmetric dependence means that
foreign countries and may also incorporate adversaries are incentivized to deny the United
dedicated space support ships. States easy access to space, which will affect
their own operations far less than those of
Space and Future Conflicts the U.S. armed forces. Conversely, the United
Modern warfare is marked by the centrality States will have to maintain access to space-
of information. The ability to conduct joint air, based systems for a variety of functions if it is
land, and sea operations rests in part on the to operate as it has operated in various con-
ability to create a common situational picture. flicts since the end of the Cold War.
Modern warfare requires the coordination Counter-space operations, however, will
of forces often separated by vast distances: not necessarily be anti-satellite systems
for example, aerial tankers from one airbase, shooting down satellites, although a number
strategic bombers from another, and carrier of nations have tested anti-satellite capabili-
air wings operating hundreds of miles from the ties in recent years. Because space operations
front lines, along with infantry and armored depend on ground-based facilities to control
forces. These forces must be able to commu- the satellites and obtain data from them, there
nicate among themselves, identifying the loca- is a significant terrestrial component to space
tion not only of the adversary, but also of ones operations. Similarly, both the systems that
own forces. All of this relies heavily on the abil- control satellites and the data that flow over
ity to access the strategic high ground of space. satellite networks are vulnerable to cyber at-
For the United States, this dependence is es- tacks and data manipulation. A hacked satel-
pecially acute because American forces typical- lite that turns off its camera at key moments

ly operate in an expeditionary mode, far from is as neutralized as a functioning satellite that
our own shores. By contrast, an Iran, a China, a is intercepted and destroyed by a co-orbital or
North Korea, even a Russia is usually operating ground-based anti-satellite system.
far closer to its home territory. Consequently, In future conflicts, both the outer space
these states can employ a variety of non-space and information space domains will be central
means, ranging from manned and unmanned battlefields, and operations there will have as
aerial vehicles to radar networks, and even much impact as traditional activities in the air,
human observers on land and sea to provide a on land, and at sea have had.

The Heritage Foundation | 75

1. U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, The Dawn of the Space Age, News & Information, updated February 5, 2013, https://www.cia.
gov/news-information/featured-story-archive/2007-featured-story-archive/the-dawn-of-the-space-age.html (accessed May 26,
2. Philip W. Quigg, Open Skies and Open Space, Foreign Affairs, Vol. 37, No. 1 (October 1958), pp. 95106, https://www. (accessed May 26, 2017).
3. U.S. Strategic Command, USSTRATCOM Space Control and Space Surveillance, October 17, 2016,
Media/Factsheets/Factsheet-View/Article/976414/usstratcom-space-control-and-space-surveillance/ (accessed May 26, 2017).
4. European Space Agency, Space Debris by the Numbers, information correct as of January 2017,
Activities/Operations/Space_Debris/Space_debris_by_the_numbers (accessed June 5, 2017).
5. See Types of Orbits, p. 62.
6. By the European Space Agencys accounting, there are approximately 750,000 man-made objects between 1 cm and 10 cm in
length orbiting the Earth and over 160 million between 1 mm and 1 cm in size, all traveling at extraordinary speeds and able to
cause varying amounts of damage to functioning satellites. European Space Agency, Space Debris by the Numbers.
7. Miria M. Finckenor and Kim K. DeGroh, A Researchers Guide to: Space Environmental Effects, National Aeronautics and Space
Administration International Space Station Researchers Guide Series, NP-2015-03-015-JSC, p. 15,
default/files/files/NP-2015-03-015-JSC_Space_Environment-ISS-Mini-Book-2015-508.pdf (accessed June 5, 2017).
8. Tariq Malik, Launchpad Explosion Destroys SpaceX Falcon 9 Rocket, Satellite in Florida,, September 1, 2016, http:// (accessed June 5, 2017).
9. Irene Klotz, New US Military Communications Satellite to Launch Saturday,, March 17, 2017,
com/36100-wgs-9-military-communications-satellite-launches-saturday.html (accessed May 26, 2017).

10. Eric Berger, Americas New, Super Expensive Weather Satellite Launches Saturday, Ars Technica, November 18, 2016, https:// (accessed June 5, 2017).
11. George Leopold, DARPA Seeks to Bring Satellite Costs Back Down to Earth, Defense Systems, December 13, 2013, https:// (accessed May 26, 2017).
12. Rich Smith, How Much Does It Cost to Launch a Satellite? The Motley Fool, June 24, 2016,
investing/2016/06/24/how-much-does-it-cost-to-launch-a-satellite.aspx (accessed May 26, 2017).
13. Information in this section is drawn from National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Earth Observatory, Three Classes of
Orbit, (accessed June 5, 2017).
14. James E. Oberg, Space Power Theory (Colorado Springs: U.S. Air Force Academy, 1999), p. 39,
space/books/oberg/ (accessed June 5, 2017).
15. Ibid.
16. United Nations, Office of Outer Space Affairs, Online Index of Objects Launched Into Outer Space,
osoindex/search-ng.jspx?lf_id (accessed June 5, 2017).
17. Union of Concerned Scientists, UCS Satellite Database, November 15, 1974December 31, 2016,
weapons/space-weapons/satellite-database#.WTWkRk0kv_8 (accessed June 5, 2017).
18. Peter B. de Selding, The List: 2014 Top Fixed Satellite Service Operators, Space News, July 13, 2015,
list-2014-top-fixed-satellite-service-operators/ (accessed June 5, 2017).
19. U.S. Department of Transportation, Positioning, Navigation and Timing (PNT) & Spectrum Management,
gov/pnt/about (accessed June 5, 2017).

76 2018 Index of U.S. Military Strength