FAS

U.S. Military Embraces Space Control, “Proximity Operations”

01.28.09 | 1 min read | Text by Steven Aftergood

The U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff have issued updated military doctrine on space operations (pdf) that includes new material on “offensive space control” and “proximity operations.”

Offensive space control “entails the negation of enemy space capabilities through denial, deception, disruption, degradation, or destruction.”

“Adversaries — both state and non-state actors — will exploit increased access to space-based capabilities. Hence, it is incumbent on the US military to negate the adversaries’ use of those space capabilities that affect the safety and well-being of US, allied, and coalition forces,” the new publication says.

Another new section of the document addresses “rendezvous and proximity operations,” in which “two resident space objects are intentionally brought operationally close together.”

In addition to assembly and servicing missions, proximity operations “include the potential to support a wide range of future US space capabilities,” which are not further specified.

See Joint Publication 3-14, “Space Operations,” January 6, 2009.

The Pentagon acknowledged using two micro-satellites to approach and inspect a third, disabled satellite, New Scientist reported last week. See “Spy satellites turn their gaze onto each other,” January 24.

The U.S. Army defined its own mission in space in “Department of the Army Space Policy” (pdf), U.S. Army Regulation 900-1, January 23, 2009.

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