Trending News
Home / Technology / AI & IT / US adding space-based computing and analytic capabilities to Space Sensors for Ballistic and Hypersonic missile defence

US adding space-based computing and analytic capabilities to Space Sensors for Ballistic and Hypersonic missile defence

US, Russia and China are in race for Hypersonic Weapons that shall provide prompt global strike capability.  Russia’s Avangard hypersonic missile system became operational in Dec 2019, defence minister Sergey Shoygu has said. The intercontinental weapon can fly 27 times the speed of sound and, unlike a regular missile warhead, can make sharp manoeuvres en route to a target, making it much harder to intercept. Russian media reports indicated that the Avangard will first be mounted on Soviet-built RS-18B intercontinental ballistic missile. It is expected to be fitted to the prospective Sarmat heavy intercontinental ballistic missile after the missile becomes operational. The Chinese have now done several dozen successful hypersonic (missile) tests… we just cannot (ignore),” Greaves told a meeting held by the Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance. Under Secretary of Defense for Management and Engineering Michael Griffin agreed that China had carried out dozens of successful tests and noted that Russia was successfully developing hypersonic systems too.

 

Hypersonic missiles travel at least five times the speed of sound (Mach 5 or 6,125 kilometers per hour) or more. Flying along the edge of space while gliding and maneuvering these missiles would strike targets with unprecedented speed and precision. Once operational, these missiles would make current strategic missile defenses systems obsolete, they will be able to avoid triggering early-warning systems or detection by radar as well their speed shall complicate interception. Militaries are  now developing various defensive strategies and solutions to counter the threat of hypersonic weapons.

 

The American missile warning mission uses a mix of space-based and terrestrial sensors. US’s Space-based Infrared System (SBIRS) is a constellation of integrated satellites in geosynchronous orbit (GEO) and high elliptical orbit (HEO) and ground-based data processing and command and control centers.This system is designed to provide early missile warning, cue missile defenses, deliver technical intelligence (TECHINT), and support battlespace awareness. These  satellites are  equipped with IR sensors that track the hot plumes of the launches. Hypersonic missiles also give very little early warning  which places very severe constraints on speed of command and control particularly to isolate the threat, and  provide command to interceptors. “Any software associated with any of those systems might have some capability to track hypersonic systems.

 

To counter the threat, some at the Pentagon envision a space-based sensor layer comprised of dozens of satellites in low earth orbit (LEO) that can track those weapons as they traverse the globe, seamlessly passing off tracking data to other sensors as the threat moves on from one sensor’s field of view and into another’s. That’s the purpose of the Hypersonic and Ballistic Tracking Space Sensor, a system being developed by the Missile Defense Agency in coordination with the Space Development Agency. The head of the MDA has dismissed the development of sensors for that system as a solvable engineering issue — the real challenge is connecting those sensors through a network and providing enough on-orbit computing power to fuse the data and task the satellites accordingly. The SDA wants to build a “Transport Layer” of satellites to do just that. The agency has asked industry to weigh in on the optical intersatellite links that will enable the basic network and expects to have an initial wave of satellites on orbit in 2022.

 

Satellites can fulfill a number of unique missions through their vantage on orbit, but at the end of the day, most of the data they collect is processed on the ground. Historically, the reason for this was simple: The size, weight and power restrictions of placing satellites on orbit precluded any excess payloads or components. So instead of hosting computing components on orbit to process the torrent of data collected by sensors, satellites downlink the data to a ground station for processing. Some companies have sought to speed up this process either by downlinking data directly into the cloud or using other satellites to transmit data to a ground station not accessible to the original satellite, but the model remains the same — collect data in space and then deliver it to a terrestrial network for processing. However, Hypersonic missiles do not give enough time for data to transmitted to ground a these will be limited by the propagation delays by satellite ground links.

 

An experimental Lockheed Martin payload launched in December 2019 will test new cloud networking capabilities that could be of interest to the Pentagon, which wants to develop its own mesh network in low-Earth orbit by 2022. Developed in just nine months, the company’s Pony Express 1 mission will test new capabilities enabled by software-defined technology. The military has grown increasingly interested in building an on-orbit computing capability that can use the vast amount of data satellite sensors collect for new missions, including Beyond Line of Sight targeting and tracking hypersonic weapons.

 

According to Lockheed Martin, Pony Express 1 and its successors will test new space-based computing capabilities that could enable on-orbit artificial intelligence, data analytics, cloud networking and advanced satellite communications. The payload features the company’s HiveStar software, which “validates advanced adaptive mesh communications between satellites, shared processing capabilities and can take advantage of sensors aboard other smart satellites to customize missions in new ways previously difficult to achieve in space.” The payload also includes a software-defined radio and a 3D-printed wideband antenna.

 

Pony Express 1 satellite features 3D printed parts

The Pony Express 1, now being tested in-orbit, is a “rapid prototyping cubesat that will enable artificial intelligence, data analytics, cloud networking and advanced satellite communications in a robust new software-defined architecture. “Early on-orbit data show Pony Express 1 is performing its important pathfinding mission very well. Lockheed Martin’s HiveStar technology onboard will give our customers unparalleled speed, resiliency and flexibility for their changing mission needs by unlocking even greater processing power in space,” said Rick Ambrose, executive vice president of Lockheed Martin Space. “This is the first of several rapid, self-funded experiments demonstrating our ability to systematically accelerate our customers’ speed to mission while reducing risk from new technologies.

 

The Pony Express 1, now being tested in-orbit, is a “rapid prototyping cubesat that will enable artificial intelligence, data analytics, cloud networking and advanced satellite communications in a robust new software-defined architecture. “Early on-orbit data show Pony Express 1 is performing its important pathfinding mission very well. Lockheed Martin’s HiveStar technology onboard will give our customers unparalleled speed, resiliency and flexibility for their changing mission needs by unlocking even greater processing power in space,” said Rick Ambrose, executive vice president of Lockheed Martin Space. “This is the first of several rapid, self-funded experiments demonstrating our ability to systematically accelerate our customers’ speed to mission while reducing risk from new technologies.

 

 

Cite This Article

 
International Defense Security & Technology (October 3, 2022) US adding space-based computing and analytic capabilities to Space Sensors for Ballistic and Hypersonic missile defence. Retrieved from https://idstch.com/space/us-adding-space-based-computing-and-analytic-capabilities-to-space-sensors-for-ballistic-and-hypersonic-missile-defence/.
"US adding space-based computing and analytic capabilities to Space Sensors for Ballistic and Hypersonic missile defence." International Defense Security & Technology - October 3, 2022, https://idstch.com/space/us-adding-space-based-computing-and-analytic-capabilities-to-space-sensors-for-ballistic-and-hypersonic-missile-defence/
International Defense Security & Technology August 17, 2020 US adding space-based computing and analytic capabilities to Space Sensors for Ballistic and Hypersonic missile defence., viewed October 3, 2022,<https://idstch.com/space/us-adding-space-based-computing-and-analytic-capabilities-to-space-sensors-for-ballistic-and-hypersonic-missile-defence/>
International Defense Security & Technology - US adding space-based computing and analytic capabilities to Space Sensors for Ballistic and Hypersonic missile defence. [Internet]. [Accessed October 3, 2022]. Available from: https://idstch.com/space/us-adding-space-based-computing-and-analytic-capabilities-to-space-sensors-for-ballistic-and-hypersonic-missile-defence/
"US adding space-based computing and analytic capabilities to Space Sensors for Ballistic and Hypersonic missile defence." International Defense Security & Technology - Accessed October 3, 2022. https://idstch.com/space/us-adding-space-based-computing-and-analytic-capabilities-to-space-sensors-for-ballistic-and-hypersonic-missile-defence/
"US adding space-based computing and analytic capabilities to Space Sensors for Ballistic and Hypersonic missile defence." International Defense Security & Technology [Online]. Available: https://idstch.com/space/us-adding-space-based-computing-and-analytic-capabilities-to-space-sensors-for-ballistic-and-hypersonic-missile-defence/. [Accessed: October 3, 2022]

About Rajesh Uppal

Check Also

Global Space race to build Moon bases, harness it’s mineral resources and helium-3, fuel for future nuclear fusion power plants could cause Future Conflict

There is global  space race among countries  to build Moon bases, harness it’s mineral resources …

error: Content is protected !!