Abstract. This paper shows the structure and operational schema of a space monitoring system. It outlines the ways to improve the existing weapons and create advanced items intended for solving tasks of outer space monitoring.
By launching the first artificial satellite of the Earth on October 4, 1957, the Soviet Union opened a new era in the history of humankind, the age of developing outer space. Eventually, it became obvious that outer space could be used to address various issues, including military applied problems. Thus, the cir-cumterrestrial space gradually started acquiring features typical of the theater of war.
Let me briefly describe circumterrestrial space where orbital groups of space forces (systems) of various states that pose a certain military threat to the RF are deployed and function, and where under certain conditions of the military political situation, a military threat to this country’s security may well emerge.
To accurately consider the geophysical factors and operational-strategic characteristics of circumterrestrial space while planning use of space vehicles they single out the near, middle, and deep operational-strategic space areas tentatively marked by the orbit altitudes where space vehicles (SV) operate (see Figure 1).
In the near operational-strategic space area (100 km to 2,000 km) there function spaceborne assets of reconnaissance, communication, navigation, topogeodetics, positioning, and meteorology.
The middle operational-strategic space area (2,000 km to 20,000 km) is where space vehicles of reconnaissance and navigation operate.
Fig. 1. Conventional makeup of circumterrestrial space
Fig; 2. Classification of foreign space systems
The deep operational-strategic space area (over 20,000 km) is where spaceborne assets of missile attack warning system operate, as well as space vehicles of reconnaissance, communication, combat control, and retransmission.
Given the fact that space is exterritorial, any state using the near, middle, and deep operational-strategic space areas can solve the problems of combat (operational) support without violating the generally accepted laws of frontier inviolability, namely, can conduct all types of reconnaissance from outer space in real time; support navigation, topogeodetic and meteorological activity of the state and its armed forces; organize global, continuous, multichannel communication with all military and civilian facilities, ships, and military units anywhere on Earth.
Obviously, the military and political leadership of a state clearly inimical to the Russian Federation, to wit the US, could not miss such excellent opportunities. This is what the US National Security Strategy approved in February 2015 says.
The US will lead from the position of strength. In particular, the potential of India, the strengthening of China, and the aggressiveness of Russia strongly affect the prospects of relations between leading powers.
The US will increase investment in such crucial spheres as cybersecurity, outer space, and reconnaissance.
It will develop technologies and tactics to contain and prevent attempts at assaulting US spaceborne systems, including indication, warning, and search for sources of attack. It will also consolidate the survivability of the most vulnerable spaceborne systems of the United States. The United States will continue to regard as a foreign policy priority the development of reliable solutions in all of these areas, allocating adequate resources to this end. At the same time, the US will make violators pay a proportionate price….
“Leading from the position of strength” – here is the big idea that sets the trend in US activity in circumterrestrial space.
At the moment, there are over 4,500 space vehicles of various kinds operating in circumterrestrial space. Some 300 of them are used in the military sphere to conduct all types of reconnaissance of the RF territory, and provide communication, navigation, and meteorological support for the armed forces of foreign states. A classification of foreign space systems is shown in Figure 2.
Distribution of foreign military space vehicles (SV) according to purpose is shown in Figure 3.
Development of outer space over the previous years was marked by the buildup of spaceborne assets for supporting troops actions at earth theaters of operations. Numerous works on analyzing foreign armed forces actions in the course of military conflicts in the Middle East, Yugoslavia, and Afghanistan bear out the indisputable fact that spaceborne systems make a tangible contribution to the attainment of objectives set to armed forces.
Falling back on the experience in using spaceborne systems of combat support accumulated over the previous years, foreign states continue to increase the quantitative and qualitative makeup of military spaceborne systems. And the main trend there is to create spaceborne systems that help achieve global control of the Earth surface. The quantitative makeup of modern orbital groups of foreign states is shown in Figure 4.
Fig. 3. Distribution of foreign military SV according to purpose
Fig. 4. Distribution of military SV according to country
It is worth noting that the makeup of civilian space vehicles is very like that of military ones. This suggests that if need be a military orbital group can be built up with commercial and research space vehicles.
A special place in foreign orbital groups belongs to more than 80 military experimentation spacecraft. Over the last 20 years, the United States and China conducted a series of experiments that suggest development and trials of spaceborne assets capable of tackling certain specific problems, namely, controlled approach to other space vehicles, inspection of space vehicles in the near and deep operational-strategic space areas; radio and technical reconnaissance of space vehicles in the immediate vicinity of their stationary posts in the geostationary area of the deep operational-strategic space area.
Analysis of the results of known experiments shows that the United States and China are already in possession of spaceborne assets of controlling and affecting other countries’ space vehicles.
Thus, having examined the peculiarities of foreign spaceborne systems development, one can draw the following conclusions.
- the leading world powers have completed (or are nearing completion of) the creation of combat spaceborne systems that can support use of armed forces at any theater of operations;
- currently, the circumterrestrial space is the site of practical trials of spaceborne assets capable of ensuring monitoring of outer space and of affecting other spaceborne facilities.
The data given above help formulate contemporary requirements for addressing issues of security provision in RF aerospace activity, i.e. uncovering in time the emerging risk situations around domestic space vehicles; continuous monitoring of foreign states activity in the circumterrestrial space; giving the state and military leadership of the Russian Federation reliable information about the evolving space situation in order to work out adequate measures of countering emergent threats to the Russian Federation in and from outer space.
The only instrument that helps address the said problems in time and up to due standards is the National Space Monitoring System (SMS) (see Figure 5).
There are lots of definitions of the notion outer space monitoring system. Let me cite the most capacious and easily understandable version. A system of outer space monitoring is a global automated strategic system whose chief purpose is to follow the activity of foreign states in the circumterrestrial space and uncover in time threats to military security and interests of the Russian Federation in and from space.
Fig; 5. Structural schema of outer space monitoring system
At present, the National Space Monitoring System is capable of ensuring the solution of the following problems:
- maintaining global monitoring of the circumterrestrial space, giving a highly reliable assessment of the degree to which the space situation is dangerous, and also forecasting its development;
- uncovering preparations and outbreak of combat actions in outer space;
- ensuring security of the domestic orbital group, including manned space vehicles;
- discovering, tracking, and identifying space-based objects in virtually the entire range of altitudes and their orbit dip angles, uncovering (defining) their intended purpose;
- detecting and tracking undeclared space vehicles, finding their movement parameters and intended purpose;
- monitoring implementation of space programs by foreign states, infrastructure buildup for launching various-purpose space vehicles, and monitoring both individual SV and orbit groups as a whole;
- monitoring the technical condition of space vehicles in foreign orbital groups, prognosticating the duration of their existence in orbits, discovering likely trajectories of descending combusted space facilities and predicting their drop area;
- providing military command and control bodies with information about the space situation, trials, deployment, and use of space-based systems by foreign states. A schematic diagram of space monitoring system’s functioning is shown in Figure 6.
I would like to emphasize that the issues listed above can only be solved within the framework of a unified information-driven network, systems of Aerospace Attack Warning System (ASAWS), antimissile defense (AMD), and space monitoring system, and also in close cooperation with the Main Space Testing Center (MSTC) and involving optical equipment of the RF Academy of Sciences and other organizations that possess technical capabilities of outer space surveillance.
Like any other complicated system, the National Space Monitoring System has a number of limitations, of which the most significant are location of its assets on the territory of the Russian Federation and dependence of optical equipment on weather conditions.
The objective nature of current technical limitations of the outer space monitoring system has determined the following ways of improving the existing weapons and creating advanced items intended for tackling the problems of outer space monitoring: to upgrade optoelectronic equipment by introducing modern circuitry; to create advanced items of technical monitoring of space vehicles; to create new radar units for identifying space facilities thanks to modern technologies; to develop and deploy orbital monitoring systems of the circumterrestrial space that are capable of optical observability of space-based objects in the entire altitude range; to modernize computers that receive and process data on the space situation.
Fig; 6. Schematic operational diagram of outer space monitoring system
It has to be said that the outer space monitoring system is even now being modernized and reequipped. Within the next three to four years, a network of cutting-edge units of the outer space monitoring system will be deployed on the territory of the Russian Federation. Those will be networks of specialized complexes of new-generation radio reconnaissance and optoelectronic units deployed in the Kaliningrad and Moscow regions, Altai Territory, the Far East, and the Republic of Crimea. The chief advantage of these units in comparison with the existing means of space monitoring is that they are based on a modern domestic circuitry. This will help increase manifold their scope of outer space monitoring.
Thus by 2020, with the introduction of prospective assets, the National Space Monitoring System will be able to provide global monitoring of circumterrestrial space in every operational-strategic area.
Translated by Margarita Kvartskhava