Image: US Department of Defense

Blog Editor’s Note: There are lots of reasons folks who care about GPS and other GNSS should worry about this.

  1. It shows Russia is practising taking out satellites. Space Force and DIA have warned about hunter-killer satellites, space-based and terrestrial lasers, and other weapons. Also that Russia and China have the capability, or will soon, to destroy lots of satellites at one time. Since GPS is America’s Achilles heel, it is a prime target.
  2. These “tests” generate a lot of debris. While most of it is in Low Earth Orbit (LEO), 19% of tracked debris is in Medium Earth Orbit (MEO) where GNSS dwell. BTW – don’t be fooled by the numbers of tracked debris objects created. The number of untrackable objects created, some as small as a grain of sand, are moving fast enough to pass through and destroy a satellite or the space station. 
  3. More debris in LEO means an increased chance of a Kessler Syndrome event – a series of cascading collisions that eventually make LEO unlivable. It could also make it very dangerous or impossible to transit LEO denying us use of MEO as well. At the very least, it makes passing through that region of space more dangerous.

Some folks dismiss concerns about debris. Space is big, they say, and the probability of collisions are low.  The same thing is sometimes said about airspace and airplanes. 278 people have died in mid-air collisions since 2000.  How many mid-air or mid-space collisions are acceptable?  How much pollution and danger are we willing to tolerate?

BTW – While this might be the first time Russia has shot down a satellite with a ground based missile, they have been destroying things in space since the 60’s. We suspect this incident is because the U.S. and China have already done it with ground based missiles and Russia had to show they could do it as well. 

Join Domestic Preparedness Journal and the RNT Foundation tomorrow afternoon for a free Webinar – “Protecting GPS Satellites, Signals, and America.” – Click here to register now.

In first, Russian test strikes satellite using Earth-based missile