Commission to Assess the Ballistic Missile Threat to the United States
Appendix III: Unclassified Working Papers
Gil Siegert: "Potential Threats from Global Commercial Space Capabilities"
Commercial space activity has shown steady growth in recent years and its
pace is accelerating. By nature, commercial space endeavors serve
multinational if not global markets. While this is good news for U.S.
businesses, which lead the world in most space applications, it causes
concern in the U.S. national security community.
For the first time in 1997, U.S. private-sector spending on space surpassed
government spending. This is the beginning of a trend, and the gap is
expected to widen. As government budgets remain tight and the public sector
continues its drive to use commercial off-the-shelf products, the result
will be commercially available capabilities that equal or surpass what the
national security community has employed to date. Global distribution of
these capabilities, and their availability through foreign providers, could
undermine the technological advantage that U.S. forces and intelligence
services have relied on for decades.
According to a recent forecast, 1 a total of 1,697 satellites will be
launched worldwide over the next 10 years (1998-2007). The value of these
satellites will be approximately $121 billion. Of the total satellites
forecasted, an estimated 1,201 of them, or 70%, will be commercial
communications satellites. The market value of these satellites will be
about $58 billion. The remaining 30% will consist of military satellites,
including communications, early warning, reconnaissance, and technology
development; civil satellites, including Earth observation and scientific;
and commercial Earth-imaging satellites. The market value of these
satellites will be about $62.6 billion, with $30.6 billion for civil, $28.6
billion for military, and $3.8 billion for commercial Earth imaging.
This report assesses the militarily significant commercial space
capabilities that are or soon will be available on the global market and
discusses their near- to medium-term impacts.
LAUNCH SERVICES AND TECHNOLOGY TRANSFER
Until recently, launch services were available for hire only from the U.S.
and, since 1980, the European Ariane consortium. The commercial launch
market today is much more complex, consisting of numerous providers in
several nations, with more on the way. Some of these launch providers exist
in non-market or transitional economies, and U.S. export restrictions are
in effect. A number of international consortia have been formed, including
collaborations between U.S. companies and organizations of former adversary
Arianespace pioneered the concept of a multi-national launch consortium,
led by France along with other members of the European Space Agency (ESA).
More recently, others have picked up the idea, especially since the breakup
of the Soviet Union opened the possibility of employing mature technologies
and systems from the Soviet launch fleet. One of the most prominent new
providers is International Launch Services (ILS), a collaboration between
Lockheed Martin, Khrunichev, and Energia. ILS markets the U.S. Atlas and
Russian Proton rockets worldwide. Another effort called Sea Launch combines
Boeing with KB Yuzhnoye/PO Yuzhmash of Ukraine, RSC Energia of Russia, and
Kvaerner Maritime of Norway to launch the Zenit rocket from an ocean
platform adapted from an off-shore oil rig. International cooperative
ventures have also targeted the market for smaller payloads. Starsem teams
Arianespace with Samara (Russia) Space Center and Eurockot combines
Daimler-Benz Aerospace with Khrunichev.
The world's top commercial satellite manufacturers-U.S. companies Hughes,
Loral, and Lockheed Martin-established an industry trend to provide
one-stop shopping for satellite buyers, allowing them to purchase turnkey
on-orbit systems. One of the results of this trend is that satellite
manufacturers, rather than satellite owners, have become the major
purchasers of launch capacity for payloads bound for geostationary orbit
(GEO). As satellite manufacturers compete for business worldwide, they seek
to build a complete package that has the lowest possible launch price and
the earliest feasible launch date. To achieve this they must be able to
choose from among all the launchers on the global market that have adequate
capability and available launch dates in the desired timeframe. Often this
leads to U.S. satellites being carried on foreign launchers.
More than just launch services have found their way to the world market.
Subsystems and components for launch systems are available from a number of
vendors. Propulsion systems, guidance systems, gyros, flight computers, and
software are dual-use items that may be purchased ostensibly for
non-military use and then be diverted to weapon systems.
Applications and Impacts
Commercial launch services are available in payload ranges from just a few
kilograms to over 4000 kilograms. Orbits as high as GEO and inclinations
from equatorial to polar can be accommodated. Lead times for launch
bookings, typically two to three years, are shrinking as efficiency
improves and more providers enter the market.
Non-spacefaring nations have access to space through a variety of service
providers. Military payloads (e.g., for communications or observation
purposes) could masquerade as civil or commercial payloads, thus providing
the satellite owner with capabilities that could be used counter to U.S.
interests. It is unlikely that the existence of such capabilities could be
hidden from the U.S., but our ability to neutralize them is not assured.
The more serious near-term concern is transfer of launcher technologies to
entities which may convert them to hostile use. This could occur
inadvertently or intentionally. Not all launching nations are parties to
the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), China and India being the
most significant examples. Development of a healthy commercial launch
industry in these countries drives technology which can be used as a tool
for revenue generation. The desire to earn hard currency may override
concerns about the ultimate use of the exported technology. Alternatively,
technologies could be exported with appropriate caution and the best of
intentions but still find their way to unauthorized end-users in non-MTCR
With regard to inadvertent technology transfer, a recent incident is
illustrative of potentially damaging scenarios. After the failure of a
Chinese Long March 3B vehicle in February 1996, China Great Wall Industries
Corp. invited Space Systems/Loral (which lost a satellite in the event) and
Hughes to participate in the failure investigation. In the process, the two
U.S. companies released information to the Chinese that went beyond the
export licenses that had been issued for the launch, and interacted with
the Chinese in ways that the USG had prohibited in the past with non-MTCR
countries. Typical launch agreements permit transfer of information needed
for payload/vehicle interface and safety requirements but explicitly
prohibit any transfer that will aid in the design or upgrade of foreign
Global satellite communications began in the 1960s with Intelsat, a
U.S.-initiated international consortium established with the goal of
setting up a worldwide network including nations that would not otherwise
have access to space technologies. In the late 1970s, Inmarsat was spun off
from Intelsat to provide global mobile (at that time, primarily maritime)
communications. Since that time, commercial satellite communications have
become a phenomenal success because of expanding markets and the
introduction of new services. A large number of profit-making service
providers exist throughout the world today, and Intelsat and Inmarsat are
in the process of converting from government-sanctioned international
organizations to commercial entities.
As international organizations, Intelsat and Inmarsat observed strict rules
regarding the extent to which they could serve military organizations
involved in combat operations around the world. As commercial companies,
they and their competitors will provide fixed-base and mobile services at
market prices on a first-come, first-served basis.
The first generation of commercial (non-Inmarsat) mobile communications
satellites is being launched during 1997-1999, led by Motorola's Iridium,
Loral's Globalstar, and Orbital Sciences' Orbcomm. There will also be major
growth in new direct TV broadcast satellites and replenishments for telecom
and traditional TV broadcast satellites for established constellations.
In 2004-2006, new high-speed broadband multimedia communications satellites
will appear, such as Motorola's Celestri, Hughes' Expressway,
Alcatel/Loral's SkyBridge/CyberStar, and Teledesic. This period will also
see the second-generation replacements for the mobile communications
systems. Most of the first-generation mobile comsats will have design
lifetimes of 5-8 years.
Applications and Impacts
High-speed data and video are integral to C4I functions. They are also
integral to a wide range of business applications, so service providers
have created commercial packages suited to the task. Very Small Aperture
Terminal (VSAT) networks have been on the market for several years, and
their purchase price and cost of operations have been declining. For a few
million dollars, a potential adversary could set up an extensive VSAT
network allowing centralized control of regional forces and distribution of
Potentially of greater concern is the proliferation of global mobile
satellite communications using hand-held units. These provide "instant
infrastructure" at low cost and can be used anywhere. In contrast to GEO
commercial satellites, which have downlink footprints favoring heavily
populated areas, global mobile systems are configured to serve all parts of
the world equally (except polar regions) and specifically target customers
in rural and under-served areas. While traditional GEO services may have
limited bandwidth available in trouble spots such as the Middle East,
Somalia, or Haiti, mobile systems would not suffer this drawback.
Beginning in 1972, NASA's Landsat series pioneered the availability of
high-resolution Earth imagery from space for the civil and commercial
sectors. Spatial resolution originally was 80 meters (Landsats 1-3) and
improved to 30 meters a decade later (Landsats 4-5). Since the launch
failure of Landsat 6 in 1993, the user community has been anticipating this
year's launch of Landsat 7, which will improve resolution to 15 meters.
The commercial and congressional interest generated by Landsat spawned an
emerging industry. With commercial competition comes the drive to expand
into global markets and offer more advanced products and services. The
sharpest products currently available are Russian 2-meter images in the
form of digitally degraded products from military archives. New satellites
with one-meter spatial resolution being offered by U.S. companies are on
the immediate horizon.
The French company Spotimage has been offering high-resolution imagery from
its series of SPOT satellites since February 1986. DoD has frequently
supplemented its mapping resources by purchasing the 10-meter resolution
images available from the first three SPOT satellites. Coalition military
forces used SPOT and Landsat imagery during Operation Desert Storm to plan
air strikes and to conduct mission training (e.g., ingress/egress routes).
SPOT 4 was successfully launched on 23 March 1998. Following SPOT 4,
service continuity will be maintained with SPOT 5, which will offer
higher-resolution products. As in the case of the previous SPOT satellites,
the French are developing SPOT 5 in cooperation with Sweden and Belgium.
The payload consists of improved imaging instruments compared to SPOT 4,
including ground resolution as sharp as 2.5 meters (instead of 10 m) in
panchromatic mode, and 10 meters (instead of 20 m) in three spectral bands
in the visible and near infrared ranges in multispectral mode. The
integration of the flight payload and the satellite will be finished in
Commercial satellite imagery with spatial resolution as sharp as one meter
will soon be available from Space Imaging EOSAT, the former operator of the
Landsat system. The Ikonos satellite is set to launch soon to provide spy
satellite-quality images. The company also sells imagery data supplied by
the Indian Remote Sensing (IRS) satellite, which has 5-meter resolution.
Earthwatch Inc. plans to compete with Space Imaging EOSAT in the one-meter
resolution market. Despite loss of its first satellite in an early on-orbit
failure, Earthwatch is pressing on with plans for its next spacecraft.
Orbimage, a division of Orbital Sciences Corp., is preparing its Orbview
system to join the high-resolution competition. It will collect images with
1-meter spatial resolution and will offer the first commercial
Collaborations between U.S. and foreign companies are in various stages of
development. For example, Core Software Technology of Pasadena plans to
market 1.5-meter imagery from Eros-A, a derivative of Israel's Ofeq-3
satellite. Also, foreign entities have approached U.S. companies about
purchasing turnkey remote sensing systems. When the United Arab Emirates
did so recently, issues were raised concerning the degree of control that
the U.S. should retain over the satellite's operation, and whether denying
the sale would simply drive the customer to a foreign source over which the
U.S. would have no control.
A less mature but still promising commercial area is radar imaging. The
first satellite radar images available on the open market came from the
Russian Almaz, launched in March 1991. Since then, research satellites
featuring radar imaging capabilities have been launched by ESA (ERS-1) and
Japan (JERS-1), in part aimed at testing the waters for future commercial
radar instruments. The Canadian government supported the development of
Radarsat, which was launched in November 1995 and intended from the start
to spawn a profit-making enterprise. Radarsat 2 reportedly with have
Table 1 is not a complete list of the imagery satellites that are (or soon
will be) offering data around the world. More than 30 commercial or
government-sponsored imaging systems are planned for launch over the next
10 years, many of which will provide image quality superior to the first
U.S. spy satellites. Many of these new systems will be beyond U.S. ability
to impose political constraints. 2 In the absence of a widely accepted plan
to bar aggressors from data access, potential adversaries will have a
number of sources for satellite imagery which they can approach directly or
indirectly. Even if this avenue is blocked, there is still the possibility
that a legitimate user, such as a news agency, could unintentionally aid an
adversary by carelessly disseminating sensitive imagery.
Applications and Impacts
The two major military benefits available to adversaries from commercial
imagery are (1) the ability to better visualize the battlefield,
complicating U.S. efforts to achieve tactical surprise, and (2) precision
targeting of weapons. 3 Commercial imagery providers are openly marketing
their products to the world's militaries. For example, a recent SPOT Image
ad lists the following military tasks supported:
* Computer-aided photointerpretation
* Threat analysis
* Precision location
* Target identification
* Change detection
* Intelligence collection
* Surveillance database
* Target dossiers
* Mission planning
* Route planning
* Air defense penetration
Table 1. Technical Capabilities of Commercial High-Resolution Sensors for Existing and Planned Satellites.
High Ground Maximum Scan Coverage Revisit Digital
Resolution Sample Spectral Viewing Line over a Photo-grammetric Orbital Orbital Period at Storage
Sensors Distancea Rangeb Anglec Widthd Single Accuracyf Altitudeg Inclinationh Equatorial Capacityj
KVR-1000 0.49-0.59 NA (40 x
camera <2 m mm -- 40 km -- -- 200 km 60 -- NA
panchromatic 1.8 m 0.50-0.90 30 11 km 605 sq km <800 m 480 km 97.4 3 days None
panchromatic 1 m 0.50-0.90 30 15 km 605 sq km <800 m 480 km 97.4 3 days --
EarlyBird NA (four
panchromatic 3 m 0.45-0.80 30 3 x 3 km1,800 sq 40-50 m 470 km 97.3 4.75 days .2 Gbytes
sensor mm images) km
panchromatic 1 m 0.45-0.90 30 10-20 km15,000 sq <20 m 470 km 97.3 4.75 days 33 Gbytes
sensor mm km
multispectral 4 m and near 30 10-20 km15,000 sq <20 m 470 km 97.3 4.75 days 33 Gbytes
sensor IR km
panchromatic 1 m 0.50-0.90 45 4 km 8,000 sq 10-14 m 460 km 97.3 3 days 32 Gbytes
sensor mm km
panchromatic 2 m 0.50-0.90 45 8 km 16,000 sq 10-14 m 460 km 97.3 3 days 32 Gbytes
sensor mm km
panchromatic 1 m 0.50-0.90 30 11 km 20,000 sq 10-14 m 680 km 98.1 2 days <6 Gbytes
sensor mm km
multispectral 4 m and near 30 11 km 20,000 sq 10-14 m 680 km 98.1 2 days <6 Gbytes
sensor IR km
a. The imaging sensor consists of a linear or 2-D array of pixels (square dots). Projected straight down, each pixel covers
a square ground area. The ground sample distance (GSD) is the length of the square in meters. The size of the GSD is a
key factor in the amount of spatial detail in an image.
b. Imaging sensors are designed to be sensitive to light at particular wavelengths. The spectral range specifies the
wavelengths (in microns) that can be "seen" by the sensor.
c. Sensors can be tilted to view areas obliquely. The viewing angle is a measure of the tilt with respect to nadir
(straight down). If the sensor is pointing straight down, the viewing angle is 0. If the sensor is pointing straight
ahead (a "cockpit's view"), the viewing angle is 90.
d. Scan line width is a technical parameter for a pushbroom sensor. A pushbroom sensor consists of a linear array of
charge-coupled devices (CCDs). The two-dimensional image is acquired through the motion of the satellite relative to the
ground, in a manner that is analogous to the track of a pushbroom across a floor. The scan line width defines the ground
distance (in kilometers) that falls within the sensor sweep.
e. This parameter specifies the maximum rectangular ground area that can be imaged as the satellite passes over a specific
f. This parameter specifies the error in the measurement of geographic locations from a stereo pair of images without using
ground reference points as locator aids. A stereo pair consists of two images of the same scene acquired at different
viewing angles. A stereo pair is used to view scenes in 3-D and measure the height of imaged features.
g. The satellites distance from the Earth's surface. All of the sensors listed in Table 1 will be placed in circular
h. The angle between the equatorial plane and the orbital plane. A satellite that flies only over the equator has a 0
inclination. A satellite that flies directly over the North and South Poles has a 90 inclination. A satellite at a 97-98
inclination is in a sun-synchronous orbit, which allows a remote sensing satellite to image areas between 82 N and 82 S
and view the Earth below at the same local time of day. All of the new satellites will be in sun-synchronous orbits.
i. The revisit period is the minimum time that must elapse before a single imaging satellite can review a specific
geographic point. It decreases at higher latitudes. At the North and South Pole, the revisit period is approximately the
orbit period (about 90 minutes for a satellite in low earth orbit).
j. The amount of data in Gigabytes that can be stored on the solid-state recorders.
Table 2. Approximate Ground Resolution in Meters at Which Target Can Be
Detected, Identified, Described, or Analyzed.
Target Detectiona General Precise Description Technical
IDb IDc Analysise
Bridges 6 4.5 1.5 1 .3
Radar 3 1 .3 .15 .015
Radio 3 1.5 .3 .15 .015
Supply Dumps 1.5-3 .6 .3 .03 .03
Troop Units (in
bivouac or on road)6 2 1.2 .3 .15
Airfield Facilities6 4.5 3 .3 .15
Artillery 1 .6 .15 .05 .045
Aircraft 4.5 1.5 1 .15 .045
Command and Control
Headquarters 3 1.5 1 .15 .09
(SSM/SAM) 3 1.5 .6 .3 .045
Surface Ships 7.5-15 4.5 .6 .3 .045
Components 2.5 1.5 .3 .03 .015
Vehicles 1.5 .6 .3 .06 .045
Minefields 3-9 6 1 .03 --
Ports and Harbors 30 15 6 .3 3
Beaches 15-30 4.5 3 1.5 .15
Railroad Yards &
Shops 15-30 15 6 1.5 .4
Roads 6-9 6 1.8 .6 .4
Urban Areas 60 30 3 3 .75
Terrain -- 90 4.5 1.5 .75
Surface Submarines 7.5-30 4.5-6 1.5 1 .03
Source: Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, NASA
Authorization for fiscal year 1978, pp. 1642-1643; and Reconnaissance Hand
Book (McDonnell-Douglas Corporation, 1982), p. 125. Table from Ann M.
Florini, "The Opening Skies: Third Party Imaging Satellites and U.S.
Security," International Security, Vol. 13, No. 2 (Fall 1988), pp. 91-123.
a. Location of a class of units, objects, or activity of military
b. Determination of general target type.
c. Discrimination within target type.
d. Size/dimension, configuration/layout, components construction,
equipment count, etc.
e. Detailed analysis of specific equipment.
Commercial providers will attempt to supply what existing and potential
markets demand. High spatial resolution is a key feature for applications
such as mapping, urban planning, and geographic information systems.
Spatial resolution accurate to less than five meters is considered spy
satellite-quality data. Table 2 provides some examples of approximate
ground resolutions in meters at which targets can be detected, identified,
described, or analyzed. While existing Landsat and SPOT data have military
uses, higher-resolution images allow individual vehicles to be
distinguished and vehicle types determined, troop movements to be tracked,
and aircraft to be inventoried at airfields
Spectral resolution is an important feature to some customers such as
agricultural and scientific users. Different parts of the visible and
infrared spectrum can reveal characteristics of the target such as the
health of vegetation. Spectral information can also distinguish between
real vegetation and camouflage. Current Landsat data divides the visible
and infrared spectrum into seven bands-red, green, blue, and four infrared
bands including one thermal. The next technological step is hyperspectral
imaging, which divides roughly the same part of the spectrum into hundreds
of bands, yielding a variety of more subtle features. Orbimage promises to
be the first to offer this capability commercially.
Revisit rate is another key factor for some civil and commercial users,
particularly for agricultural and disaster relief applications. Frequent
views of the same sites are also vital to military commanders and
strategists. Revisit rate is determined by the orbital parameters of the
satellite, and is significantly improved by simultaneous use of multiple
satellites, as many commercial providers plan to do.
Radar imaging from satellites provides information that overlaps and
complements optical imaging. It provides high resolution, day/night,
all-weather coverage, allowing it to function at times when optical imaging
can't. Installations and movements can be viewed in darkness or through
clouds, making them difficult to hide. Though new to the commercial market,
radar data is likely to achieve wide acceptance, and therefore wider
availability, as civil and commercial users discover its many applications:
tracking ice flows in polar waterways, determining soil moisture content,
penetrating dense foliage or sand dunes to reveal archeological sites, and
Image collection is only one part of the process. A healthy and
sophisticated value-added industry performs the processing, distribution,
and interpretation of images. Commercially, this has been the most
lucrative part of the remote sensing industry, and the world's militaries
have been among the biggest customers. Delivery times are measured in
weeks, so commercial imagery is not timely enough to give adversaries an
edge throughout an extended campaign. But delivery times will gradually
improve, and even at current response times the access to imagery
information could make a critical difference in planning a single
National remote sensing centers exist in all regions of the world,
including areas that are potential hot spots. The centers typically operate
on a civil/commercial basis, but also have strong ties to military agencies
of their governments. Most centers have the capability to handle imagery
from two or more collection systems, giving them the ability to extract
additional information using data fusion techniques. The centers have
ongoing agreements with the operators of the satellites providing data, but
policing these agreements is difficult at best. Satellite operators have
little control over who receives data collected at foreign ground stations
and how quickly they receive it.
WEATHER SATELLITE INFORMATION
Weather monitoring is a function performed by government entities and
international organizations around the world, not an activity of the
commercial sector. However, the characteristic it shares with commercial
space products is the global, open distribution of information that can be
vital to military operations. Weather information is shared widely between
countries and through the World Meteorological Organization. Additionally,
weather imagery with resolution down to one kilometer can be downloaded
directly from satellites of the U.S., Europe, Russia, and China using
readily available hardware and software costing from a few hundred to a few
The U.S. weather monitoring system includes the Geostationary Operational
Environmental Satellites (GOES), which give wide-angle continuous views of
the U.S. and its adjacent ocean areas. More useful for military
applications is the National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental
Satellite System (NPOESS), which merges the NOAA polar-orbiting satellites
with those of the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP). 4 The
polar orbiters provide periodic coverage of regional weather patterns with
greater precision than GOES.
Similar data is available from geostationary and polar orbiters of Russia,
China, Japan, and the European consortium Eumetsat. Nations routinely help
each other to fill gaps in coverage. For example, Eumetsat recently
"loaned" its geostationary Meteosat to the U.S., moving it to a different
orbital slot temporarily to supplement the GOES system, which was
experiencing delays in launching a replacement satellite.
Applications and Impacts
Accurate weather information is vital to military mission planning.
Commanders and strategists must know if rain or other inclement weather
will hinder air, sea, or ground movement; if cloud cover will provide
concealment from air or space observation; or if fog or other atmospheric
distortions will interfere with laser targeting devices. Adversaries can
use weather information for their own mission planning, or to judge the
likelihood of U.S. use of various techniques, or to choose the best
conditions to hide their movements.
GLOBAL POSITION, VELOCITY, NAVIGATION, AND TIMING
DoD invested around $10 billion over two decades to develop the Global
Positioning System (GPS). The 24-satellite constellation delivers precise
position, velocity, and time (PVT) data to an unlimited number of users
with passive receivers anywhere in the world.
The dual-use nature of the capability was obvious from the beginning, but
no one envisioned the extent to which the civil and commercial sectors
would embrace the system once it became operational. GPS receivers and
augmentations for a multitude of applications have become a lucrative
global business. Commercialization of GPS technologies has resulted in easy
availability and decreasing prices. By 2000, industry observers estimate
that military users will account for only 1.5 percent of the GPS market.
It is U.S. policy to continue providing GPS Standard Positioning Service
for peaceful civil, commercial, and scientific use on a continuous
worldwide basis, free of direct user fees. Private sector investment and
international cooperation in the use of GPS are encouraged. At the same
time, DoD is directed to develop measures to prevent the hostile use of GPS
and its augmentations to ensure that the U.S. retains a military advantage
without unduly disrupting or degrading civilian users. 5
Applications and Impacts
The military services use GPS to move and position troops and vehicles and
to guide precision munitions. Precise PVT strongly augments command and
control, battle tactics and support coordination, strategic and tactical
air warfare, accurate and timely fire support, and combat service support
operations. This increases the accuracy and availability of current weapon
systems, thereby enhancing overall mission effectiveness.
GPS receivers come in a variety of sizes and designs to serve needs ranging
from individual soldiers to ships and aircraft. Under a configuration
called Selective Availability, military users have access to a precision
code that permits 10 times greater accuracy than the Coarse Acquisition
(C/A) code available to civilian users. Currently, it is U.S. policy to
phase out Selective Availability and make precision signals available to
all by 2006. On 30 March 1998, the Interagency GPS Executive Board (IGEB)
announced that a second civil coded signal will be added to GPS, a change
that will take a few years to implement. The IGEB also directed that
efforts to define an additional frequency for a third coded signal should
continue. 6 In response to these changes, DoD must implement adjustments to
the control, space, and user segments to allow U.S. military use of GPS in
degraded environments while denying it to an adversary.
Augmentations are available now to civilian users that improve accuracy
dramatically by coupling GPS signals with transmitters at fixed sites. In
some cases, the augmented signal is more accurate than the encrypted signal
available to military users.
Widely distributed knowledge of the capabilities and functional parameters
of the GPS system presents two problems:
1. Ease of acquiring the ability to jam, deceive, or otherwise disrupt
GPS use. The system's antijam capabilities have repeatedly been
identified as inadequate. Performance can be severely degraded or
provide erroneous information in high-noise (jamming) or scintillation
2. Increasing likelihood that adversaries will use GPS for hostile
purposes, especially as Selective Availability is phased out.
Presently, the U.S. has no capability to deny adversaries the use of
GPS Coarse Acquisition code without impacting its own use of the
system. Countering hostile use would force the U.S. to deny use to
friendly forces in the area of responsibility. 7
In response, DoD has initiated Navigation Warfare (NavWar) activities
directed at three objectives:
1. GPS in an area of responsibility (AOR).
2. Prevent use by adversary forces of satellite navigation and its
associated augmentations in the AOR.
3. Allow the civil and commercial community access to satellite
navigation signals outside the AOR. 8
Jamming of GPS signals in a theater of operations would degrade or
eliminate U.S. ability to accurately position the full spectrum of
platforms and personnel, and would interfere with the delivery of stand-off
weapons such as cruise missiles. Alternatively, adversaries might forego
jamming in order to take advantage of GPS for their own purposes. The most
threatening example is the use of GPS to improve the guidance systems of
weapons of mass destruction, for which Coarse Acquisition code would be
NavWar equipment is expected to allow access to GPS information for
authorized users during periods of denial, and to function properly in the
presence of spoofing or other injection of false or unauthorized
information. The NavWar system will be designed to detect and locate
ACCESS TO SPACE SURVEILLANCE INFORMATION
Space surveillance provides the ability to monitor, detect, track,
identify, characterize, and catalog all man-made Earth-orbiting objects.
There is currently no national or DoD policy guidance that addresses how to
handle requests from commercial and foreign entities for space surveillance
information. Support to the civil sector is authorized by a DoD/NASA
agreement 9 which enables DoD to provide NASA with data from its space
object catalog and permits NASA to disseminate the information on an
unclassified basis to scientific and civil interests. The agreement states
that space surveillance systems should be "responsive to all the needs of
the scientific community and civilian interests, domestic and foreign," but
does not explicitly address U.S. or foreign commercial entities. A
subsequent MoA 10 broadens the earlier agreement slightly, but still
doesn't define the terms of USSPACECOM support to commercial and foreign
Commercial or foreign entities without formal agreements with USSPACECOM
must obtain space surveillance support through NASA Goddard Space Flight
Center or their appropriate U.S. embassy. If surveillance centers receive
direct requests from these entities, they must be forwarded to the
USSPACECOM Space Operations Center for proper handling. The Space
Operations Center will respond to emergency requests from the space
vehicle's owner/operator if human life is threatened or if catastrophic
failure of the space vehicle may occur. For emergency satellite anomalies
where the vehicle is not subject to catastrophic failure, the Space
Operations Center will direct the requester to NASA Goddard.
Applications and Impacts
Situational awareness in space allows a broad range of missions, including
space control protection, prevention, negation, and BM/C4I. Launch support
applications include collision avoidance and early orbit determination.
Two potential negative impacts stand out. First, USSPACECOM could
inadvertently provide aid to adversaries. Sharing space surveillance data
without restrictions risks enabling foreign entities to deduce the
accuracy, processing speed, and coverage of the U.S. surveillance network.
Knowledge of these capabilities would enable potential adversaries to
exploit weaknesses and possibly conduct space operations without U.S.
Another impact is the possible overburdening of DoD resources in support of
non-DoD activities. DoD is expected to experience funding constraints in
the coming years that will make it challenging to maintain and upgrade
existing infrastructure, even without considering additional demands from
non-military sectors. USSPACECOM must not compromise its primary mission by
becoming a de facto space traffic controller. Adversaries could take
advantage of an overloaded U.S. surveillance system when we can least
afford it by submitting large numbers of spurious requests through various
channels in an attempt to clog the system at a critical time.
As the commercial and foreign satellite population increases, and DoD's
reliance on space systems continues to grow, space surveillance becomes
more critical for maintaining situational awareness supporting space
1. Teal Group, "Worldwide Satellite Market Forecast: 1998-2007," 12 Jan 98
2. AFRL Directed Energy Directorate, Intelligence & Threat Evaluation
Branch, "Aggressor Space Applications Project: The Military Impact of
Commercial Satellite Imagery"
4. PDD-NSTC-2, "Convergence of U.S. Polar-Orbiting Operational
Environmental Satellite Systems," 5 May 94
5. PDD-NSTC-6, "U.S. Global Positioning System Policy," 28 Mar 96
6. DoD News Release No. 139-98, "Additional Civil Coded Signals on Future
Global Positioning System (GPS) Satellites," 30 Mar 98
7. Air Force Space Command, Draft Operational Requirements Document for
Global Positioning System-Navigation Warfare, 16 Mar 98
9. DoD/NASA Agreement on Functions Involved in Space Surveillance of U.S.
and Foreign Satellites and Space Vehicles, Jan 61
10. Memorandum of Agreement Between NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center and
USSPACECOM, Mar 94