Space Products & Innovation
Homeland Security, Defense, and Intelligence
Communications technologies also play a key role in the security sector because they can deliver communication services unaffected by disruption or lack of terrestrial communications infrastructure.
Since 1999, the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime has made extensive use of satellite imagery in its Illicit Crop Monitoring Programme (ICPM), helping national governments and the international community monitor and track the production of illicit crops.
Space services are proving their utility in fighting international crime. In January 2009 the U.S. commercial remote sensing firm GeoEye reported that its IKONOS satellite had located and taken high-resolution pictures of the oil supertanker MV Sirius Star in the Indian Ocean after the ship had been hijacked by pirates off the coast of Somalia.
National governments employ satellite-based remote sensing technology to improve their ability to monitor and maintain security of national borders. In the wake of the November 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai, the Indian government accelerated plans for a reconnaissance satellite focused on military applications.
From research that was conducted on ESA’s Integral spacecraft, a U.K.-based company created a gamma-ray detection device that can identify radioactive material and explosives in dirty bombs. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security joined the research after signing a contract to develop a next-generation radiation detection system.
In May 2008, Lockheed Martin announced a major testing milestone in a space-based missile launch detection satellite. The first Space Based Infrared System (SBIRS) geosynchronous orbit spacecraft, to be launched in 2009, will provide new missile detection and surveillance capabilities.
Small payloads inserted in a larger satellite with a separate mission are known as hosted payloads. Initiatives such as the Commercially Hosted Infrared Payload Flight Demonstration Program represent a continuing partnership between commercial satellite manufacturers, operators, and defense organizations.
New satellite technology is also being developed to allow warfighters to detect and identify targets within a 10-minute time frame. The technology, to be tested on TacSat-3, uses a hyperspectral imager, dubbed the Advanced Responsive Tactically Effective Military Imaging Spectrometer (ARTEMIS), in combination with onboard processing to obtain and transmit images to soldiers on the ground.
Advanced spacecraft and ground equipment will allow military users faster access to information via satellite. Three satellites in development and testing will provide tactical military communications, including real-time video, targeting data, and battlefield maps for the U.S. Department of Defense.
Two systems in development by the U.S. military, the Warfighter Information Network-Tactical (WIN-T) program and the Joint Tactical Radio System (JTRS), are designed to provide connectivity and interoperability, and deal with the challenges of communications on the move.