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The war starts in space: the cosmic connection
Material posted: Publication date: 27-09-2016
The words in the headline, someone else might seem strange. Is in space fighting? Is impact means space-based permitted? Yes, fortunately, missiles and laser cannons in orbit yet. However, as the experience of recent years, preparations for military conflict or large-scale maneuvers begin with the regrouping of spacecraft reconnaissance and communications. So that the space need of the eye.

In these days to have timely information about changes in the space situation is not less important than to have the means of early warning of missile attack. Although space powers in accordance with the international treaties to notify each other about launches of space vehicles, their purpose is not always to the end "transparently".

Here's an example: one state launches an artificial satellite of the Earth, who, as officially announced, will be used to monitor the surface of our planet, say, in the interests of the weather service. But then with a machine to happen strange metamorphosis: the companion is divided into three separate units, which differ in different orbits, forming in the sky an equilateral triangle, and begin work, the results of which would be rather interesting, not meteorologists, and military. Then, as they say, trust but verify. And what do you know?

In anticipation of the battle in orbit

In our country there are such means. 25 years ago, then still part of the USSR air defense, was formed the body of the control space. In those years, subject to counter strike tools, which were created as part of the American Strategic defense initiative was seen as highly relevant, and therefore the objectives of the corps included not only the control of the ambient space, but the organization of counter-space forces of the probable enemy.

In the framework of the hull was created a special piece, the arms which were supposed to be fighters satellites (IP): this system has been tested and successfully hit eight learning objectives on orbit. Then came other times, the cold war ended, and in accordance with the relevant agreements between the USSR and the USA from Isov had to be abandoned, which however, did not make the orbital monitoring less important. Corps, stationed in the Moscow region district of Noginsk, has been transformed into a division, and then in the Main center of the exploration of outer space.

Facilities of the complex optical-electronic surveillance of the space situation, located near the town of Nurek (Tajikistan).

Of course, individual instruments of observation for the middle space exist in several countries, but a comprehensive system of space monitoring are only in Russian and, as you might guess, the US. The effectiveness of such systems directly depends on quality and quantity of surveillance and the geography of their location.

On the last point and the us to compete hard: having base and dependent territories around the globe, the United States is able to monitor in continuous mode, more sectors of the near-earth space. Interestingly, one of the most important elements of the American system was created since the beginning of 1960-ies of the so-called space fence (space fence).

"Fence" was a series of transmitting and receiving VHF antennas stretching across the entire territory of the United States — from California to Georgia at about the latitude of 33 degrees. Last August, this unique venue is disabled by the command of the American government, which decided that "fence" that can distinguish objects with a diameter of 10 cm at heights up to 30,000 km, is too costly to American taxpayers.

However, this does not mean that the United States abandoned space exploration: first, they have other means, and secondly, since 2009 a leading American company in the field of defense has already received $500 million to develop a "fence" of the new generation. And what do we have?

Closer to the stars

The main center of space exploration situation troops aerospace defense of the Russian Federation operates around the clock and produces about 70 000 measurements per day. In his catalog of about 10 000 objects — from microseconds to nano-satellites and small fragments of space debris. Data comes into the Centre from both its own funds and from other services, leading to the observation of the sky. Among them, the first thing to note is the system of missile attack warning (early warning system), which includes the radar "Voronezh", "Volga", "Dnepr", "DTV".


Command post. Security of airspace and outer space requires round the clock attention and sophisticated analytical work.

Also the Center receives information from the radar means ABM deployment area created around Moscow, includes radar "don-2N" and "Danube-3U". Use data from the tracking stations for the space built on the basis of quantum-optical system "Sazhen-T". It is a telescope equipped with equipment for laser measurement of the slant range and angular coordinates measurements of reflected solar radiation. The centre receives information from agencies of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

Own funds the Main center of RKO — optical instruments, radar and radio that let you listen to your space in passive mode. Optical and radar means give the opportunity to monitor the movement of objects in earth orbit, and radio help to know something about the functioning of the spacecraft.

"Thanks to radio equipment, — says the head of the Center Colonel Alexander Logvinenko," we can judge the state of the spacecraft is enabled or disabled. Suppose official bodies of a state declare: such a satellite put in reserve. We listen it in the radio, and it turns out that the machine turned on full power. So we're hiding something".

Unique radio complex "Moment" working in the interests of the Centre, located here in the suburbs, but optical and radar tools aimed at the Equatorial region (orbit any space vehicle inevitably passes through the equator), are closer to the South, in the mountains, where the nights dark sky, rarely rains and the air is extremely transparent.

One of the complexes, optical and radar observation is located in Karachay-Cherkessia, near the village of Zelenchukskaya. The equipment installed here allows to monitor the sky in the optical range even in daylight. Another cluster works in the Pamirs near the town of Nurek (Tajikistan). After the Soviet collapse, the object became the property of the new independent state, however, since 2005, the station and command post transferred to Russia, and the land underneath them is rented by the Russian military for a nominal rent.

Of course, to improve the efficiency of work of the Centre number and the geography of surveillance needs to be expanded. After all, the more sectors of the sky under observation, more often in their field of vision gets a particular spacecraft. As told Colonel Logvinenko, in the period up to 2020, experts in the exploration of outer space is calculated to obtain a more compact and efficient quantum-optical instruments. A chain of such stations stretched across the country, from Kaliningrad to Nakhodka. With their help, you can look deep into space at 40 000 km as it is now, and 70-80 thousand.

On duty

Command post the Main center of space exploration situation is similar to the mission control center in miniature. Those concentrated faces of the people behind the monitors, those big screens on the wall: they show the trajectory of the spacecraft. The work here goes seven days a week and 24 hours a day, but that doesn't mean of course that every second, every space object larger than a football is under scrutiny.

Usually the officers of the Center is given the task to monitor the movements of particular objects of interest to certain authorities. This may be foreign intelligence apparatus or space rocket experiments of North Korea. Of particular interest is the rapidly developing Chinese space program.

However, there is an object that is under constant control. Is the international space station. In order not to jeopardize the crews of the ISS, it is necessary to detect threats from "space junk" and make recommendations for adjusting its trajectory. Truly serious threats do not occur so often (about once every few months), but in "space scouts" no. In particular, last year, seriously considered the option of an emergency evacuation of the crew from the ISS because of possible collision of station with a fragment of proven rocket technology.

The new capacity. The more various technical tools is at the disposal of the troops aerospace defense, the more information about the space environment can be obtained in real time. The main center of RKO uses data not only own funds, but the radar system of missile warning. In the photo the construction of the over-the-horizon radar new generation of "Voronezh-M".

However, the specialists of the Center carried out calculations that showed that the station was safe, the collision will not. There are some curious cases. Once the monitoring tools were found near the ISS object of unknown origin. He appeared as if from nowhere, its proximity to the station no one noticed. Soon the mystery was solved: in the role of a UFO was made by the drawer, the lost astronauts while in outer space. Due to the difference of mass the orbit of the station and drawer slightly parted, and both objects continued flying at some distance from each other.

Another priority for the Center — control for descent from orbit of large space objects that pose a potential risk. For example, from November 2011 to January 2012 was conducted powercopy control and analysis of poorly running the space probe "Phobos-Grunt" (carrying 8 tons of toxic fuel). In the end, was given an accurate forecast of the date and place of the fall of the spacecraft.

The analytic division of the Main centre of RKO looks like an office of some firms: tables, partitions, displays, keyboard and mouse. But here comes the most important thing: officers, analysts of higher qualification assess online changes in the space situation and report their findings to their superiors. Of course, analysts helps computer engineering.

Local VTS, built, according to the staff of the Centre, completely on domestic element base (used platform "Elbrus"), equipped with special software that processes a large array of incoming data in auto mode. But for the final assessment of the events in earth orbit required the constant presence of experienced officers and analysts.

These people, despite the purely intellectual nature of the work, are on duty and even carry weapons. Order to results urgent assessment of the space situation in a particular region may come at any time of the day or night. For example, last summer the Ministry of defence of the Russian Federation was declared sudden check of combat readiness of troops of Eastern military district.

Just as suddenly, the Center was issued by the team to assess changes in the activity of foreign spacecraft due to the unprecedented in Russian history teachings. In response to the question of what have been able to see in space during the execution of the order, the assistant to the chief of the Main centre of RKO Colonel Alexei Rudenko said: "I Can only say that the territory of the Russian Federation for almost 100% of the time is under the control of a foreign reconnaissance systems, space-based. As for our work during the exercises in the Eastern district, all the tasks of the Centre have been successfully completed. Details are restricted information".

Oleg Makarov


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