Space Products & Innovation
Homeland Security, Defense, and Intelligence
Scientists from the University of New Hampshire and the Michigan Aerospace Corporation have adapted space technology to detect radioactive and fissile materials that can be used in nuclear devices, including “dirty bombs,” which spread harmful radioactive material into the environment.
The U.S. Department of Defense launched its first Mobile User Objective System (MUOS) satellite in February 2012. With four more planned satellites, MUOS will provide global ultra-high-frequency (UHF) communications coverage, which has the advantage of being resistant to signal blockages by foliage, urban structures, or inclement weather.
Beginning in 2012, new satellite communications terminals are being deployed at Afghan National Police Training Centers. The new access points are able to provide both classified and unclassified network access, which increases operational security while conserving valuable secure bandwidth.
Since the beginning of the Space Race, defense considerations have been an important part of space activities. National security space assets provide tactical and strategic intelligence services, navigation data and precision guidance for munitions, secure communications, and monitoring of foreign weapons testing and missile launches.
Though GPS tracking can be an effective way of following suspected criminals, its use by police is now more restricted. In January 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled unanimously that police erred in not obtaining a warrant before attaching a tracking device to a suspect’s car.
Laipac Technology has developed a bulletproof vest that incorporates GPS, sending an automatic alert when the vest is fired upon. This allows a separate team to immediately locate soldiers or police officers that have been attacked, providing backup or medical assistance.
The military is finding that new smart devices, such as phones, enabled by space assets can improve soldiers’ ability to carry out their missions. In the past, a helicopter pilot trying to locate U.S. troops under attack would have to find the group by locating the right map, unfolding it, and pinpointing the position of the troops.
Surveillance satellites are used on a daily basis for military planning and intelligence. The military operation against Osama Bin Laden in 2011 is a prime example of how these space assets are used. After the CIA and U.S. military determined the potential location of Osama Bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, satellite images were used to create a detailed map from above.
The satellite component of the U.S. Missile Defense program made great strides in 2011. The Space Tracking and Surveillance System (STSS), launched in 2009, completed its last test focus area required by the Missile Defense Agency in April 2011, five months ahead of schedule.