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Rocket Blasts Off With Missile-Warning Satellite

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the name-it-after-your-space-opera-of-choice dept.

The Military 60

fysdt sends this quote from a Reuters report: "An unmanned Atlas 5 rocket blasted off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on Saturday to put the first satellite of the Defense Department's new missile-warning system into orbit. Tucked inside the rocket's nosecone was the $1.3 billion Space-Based Infrared Systems (SBIRS) Geo-1 spacecraft, built by Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman. The satellite, the first of four scheduled for launch over the next five years, is intended to provide the US military with early notice of missile launches and other reconnaissance services. The $17.6 billion SBIRS constellation, which includes sensors on host satellites, will augment and eventually replace the military's Defense Support Program satellites, which have been operating since 1970. The satellites scour the planet for heat trails produced by flying rockets and missiles."

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60 comments

It will be interesting (0, Troll)

RobertM1968 (951074) | more than 2 years ago | (#36058464)

It will be interesting to see how this is affected by the planned increase in commercial space traffic, as well as government space traffic from other nations. That aside, it's nice to see we are so far behind Reagan's ridiculous "SDI"/"Star Wars Defense Initiatave" and wasting a LOT of money on heat sensors in space.

Re:It will be interesting (1)

doomsday_device (1063146) | more than 2 years ago | (#36058562)

Well let's hope that with the incredible power of a computer, they can distinguish commercial space traffic from global thermonuclear war.

Your typical first strike would involve lots of simultaneous launches. And the trajectories of icbm's would be suspiciously suborbital. Complicated equipment doing complicated pattern recognition. Built by the lowest bidder. What could possibly go wrong...

Re:It will be interesting (4, Interesting)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 2 years ago | (#36059098)

Not to mention despite all the fancy electronics in the end it will come down to humans and whether or not they have any damned sense. I remember reading when the wall fell a couple of the "BTW did you know we came close to blowing your Yankee asses up?" articles, one where they came damned close to launching because the USA was doing a huge ePeen exercise with the Germans and the Russians thought it was a build up for launch, and on the second one of the commanders at one of their tracking stations actually detected what the computer thought was an ICBM headed to Moscow and despite orders refused to launch. He said 'It didn't make sense to me. The Americans would not just launch one or two birds, the sky would have been full. To launch only one or two birds would have been suicide" so he figured it was a glitch (turned out to be sunlight and clouds screwing with the detectors)

So in the end all we can do is hope the guy sitting there by the button has as much sense as that Russian commander. Because as any tech guy will tell you the fancier the system the more ways it can break horribly. Let us just hope they ain't basing their entire decision on whether to launch or not on these new fancy birds.

Re:It will be interesting (1)

butalearner (1235200) | more than 2 years ago | (#36060290)

Well ideally these days we'd be launching interceptors, as opposed to a counterattack. That's why we're pouring money into mid-course missile defense, after all.

Re:It will be interesting (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36060514)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stanislav_Petrov
I think this is the person you're talking about.

Re:It will be interesting (2)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 2 years ago | (#36059954)

ICBMs are not suborbital, an ICBM generally goes up to about 800-1100 miles at it's apogee.

Re:It will be interesting (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36060068)

Ahem, The "B" in "ICBM" stands for "ballistic". http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ballistic_missile/ [wikipedia.org]

Re:It will be interesting (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36060864)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intercontinental_ballistic_missile#Flight_phases [wikipedia.org]

midcourse phase: approx. 25 minutes—sub-orbital spaceflight in an elliptic flightpath; the flightpath is part of an ellipse with a vertical major axis; the apogee (halfway through the midcourse phase) is at an altitude of approximately 1,200 km; the semi-major axis is between 3,186 km and 6,372 km; the projection of the flightpath on the Earth's surface is close to a great circle, slightly displaced due to earth rotation during the time of flight; the missile may release several independent warheads, and penetration aids such as metallic-coated balloons, aluminum chaff, and full-scale warhead decoys.

1200km is about 745 miles.

correction: 'terrorist sensors' (1)

decora (1710862) | more than 2 years ago | (#36059372)

if i were the US military I wouldn't give a flying fuck about a bunch of nuclear missles. Al Qaeda is going to use a ship in a harbor or a shipping container marked "Playstation 5" to deliver their nuclear holocaust.

in my uneducated, conspiracy theory opinion, the 'other reconnaisance' uses are the real reason of this program. eventually they will have the equivalent of Dr X's machine in X-Men, a gigantic globe where you can look up anybody on the planet and kill them with a thought.

Re:correction: 'terrorist sensors' (1)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 2 years ago | (#36060000)

Because the Russians don't have ICBMs and SLBMs anymore while the North Koreans and Iranians aren't working on them at the same time as the Saudis, Israelis, Indians and Pakistan don't all have MRBMs while also looking at orbital systems and ICBMs.

Its all about the terrorists.

yes. i remember the russian attack on sheboygan (1)

decora (1710862) | more than 2 years ago | (#36062600)

and that time that Pakistan blew up Omaha, then there was the time that India invaded North Dakota.

Re:It will be interesting (2, Insightful)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 2 years ago | (#36059948)

It won't be affected by commercial launches, USAF and other intelligence agencies looking out for missile and rocket launches generally know where and when commercial and research launches are.

So if a rocket is launched from New Mexico or Kodiak or Baikonur, even in much higher volume, it's not going to cause trouble.

Now if a launch happens from Musudan-ri, its going to raise an alarm.

1.3 Billion?... (0)

ace999 (2105666) | more than 2 years ago | (#36058472)

For just searching heat trails? I'm sure they won't spy on us with those satellites...

Re:1.3 Billion?... (1)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 2 years ago | (#36058714)

It seems to me that a rocket's heat signature would be so different, qualitatively and quantitatively, from any other infrared signal, that sensors optimized to detect missile launches wouldn't be much use for any other kind of spying.

Re:1.3 Billion?... (1)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 2 years ago | (#36058796)

I'm sure they won't spy on us with those satellites...

No kidding... I just farted and got a call from Osama Bin Laden and Elvis.

Re:1.3 Billion?... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36058850)

If by 'us' I assume you mean American Citizens. And the answer would probably be no. The amount of paperwork required would be insane, [cut from wikipedia]

NSA's United States Signals Intelligence Directive 18 (USSID 18) strictly prohibits the interception or collection of information about "...U.S. persons, entities, corporations or organizations..." without explicit written legal permission from the United States Attorney General when the subject is located abroad, or the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court when within U.S. Borders.

what about James Bamfords book? (1)

decora (1710862) | more than 2 years ago | (#36059440)

according to James Bamford's book Shadow Factory, the USSID 18 is not respected like it was in the old days.
he has an interview with Adrienne Kinne who worked at the NSA center in Georgia (she was military intel in the 90s thru early 2000s).

yes, the NSA IG did a report finding 'no violations' --- they didnt even interview her though.

the law can say one thing, but in practice, the AG could write something like 'i authorize anything you need to do' and away we go.

besides, Cheney's Cheney (David Addington) said basically that "[we are one bomb away from getting rid of that stupid FISA court]". i.e. if there were another terrorist attack, like the underwear bomber, that court would probably cease to exist, and so would USSID 18.

Was it sending reports as it was launched? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36058510)

"Rocket heat trail detected 0.0 km away"

Re:Was it sending reports as it was launched? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36071280)

Luckily it's not a manned flight. The way back would be kind of stressful...

Ready, set, go! (0)

xMrFishx (1956084) | more than 2 years ago | (#36058530)

Step 1: Put missile detectors in space
Step 2: Put missiles in space.
Step 3: ???
Step 4: Profit.

Re:Ready, set, go! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36058552)

I wanna play!

3: "Bomb the shit out of poor brown people" ?

Re:Ready, set, go! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36058572)

I wanna play!

3: "Bomb the shit out of poor brown people" ?

I wanna play!

3: "Bomb the shit out of poor brown people" ?

If they're going to be assholes that are going to bomb civilians because we don't believe in their form of mythology superstition (Islam as opposed to Judeo-Christianity), then I'm all for it.

Re:Ready, set, go! (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36058632)

I wanna play!

3: "Bomb the shit out of poor brown people" ?

How about we hand 'em welfare checks so they vote for us?

Oh, wait. That's Democratic Party politics.

Re:Ready, set, go! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36058912)

Actually, that's just politics period.

Re:Ready, set, go! (2)

icebraining (1313345) | more than 2 years ago | (#36059026)

Using money to kill people vs. using it for welfare.

I know what I prefer.

Re:Ready, set, go! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36059196)

How about "using money to teach people to earn their own"?
Nice idea but most of them hate us for it.

Re:Ready, set, go! (1)

Bender0x7D1 (536254) | more than 2 years ago | (#36060046)

Personally, I prefer using a little bit of it for both.

In case you haven't noticed, the world is a messed up place. If we, as a country, don't have the ability to kill people efficiently, and in large numbers, we likely wouldn't exist as a country. Someone else, willing to spend money on killing people, would come in and take over.

As for welfare - I like the sig for "shutdown -p now" - "I like paying taxes. With them I buy civilization." I'm not saying that we should support a professional welfare class, but we should make sure everyone has BASIC needs so they don't decide to start mugging people and robbing houses to avoid starvation..

Re:Ready, set, go! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36060222)

In case you haven't noticed, the world is a messed up place. If we, as a country, don't have the ability to kill people efficiently, and in large numbers, we likely wouldn't exist as a country. Someone else, willing to spend money on killing people, would come in and take over.

But we are the cause of people wanting to kill people. If we were nicer everyone would be hugging each other and offering free dope, free sex, and good vibes. Are you a racist?

Re:Ready, set, go! (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36058590)

I think you'll find - in this Military Industrial Complex age - it's as follows:

Define the steps (Profit)
Step 1: Put missile detectors in space (Profit)
Step 2: Put missiles in space. (Profit)
Step 3: ??? (Profit)
Step 4: Profit. (Profit)
Step 5. Overrun original budgets (Profit)

Re:Ready, set, go! (1)

Yvanhoe (564877) | more than 2 years ago | (#36062576)

Actually I hope that step 2 will be followed by a lot of uprorar. There is a ban on weapons in space. I wonder how long it will last.

Want to play a game, America? (2)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36058602)

this game costs $1.3B, Lockheed wins, and you always lose.

Ready, set, go.

Oops. We have to cut teachers' pay again.

Re:Want to play a game, America? (1)

Solandri (704621) | more than 2 years ago | (#36060326)

We spend about $10,000 per student each year [ed.gov] on public education. The stats I'm seeing for average class size is between 25-30, so we're spending more than a quarter million dollars per teacher each year. The problem with education isn't that we aren't funding it enough. The problem is that most of the money is being spent on stuff other than teaching kids, and never makes it to the teachers/classrooms.

Now I get it (3, Interesting)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | more than 2 years ago | (#36058644)

An unmanned Atlas 5 rocket blasted off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on Saturday

I occasionally see these stories and idly wonder (having grown up in the 60s and 70s) "when did they change Cape Kennedy back to Cape Canaveral"? I assumed it was recent since I've only noticed the "Cape Canaveral" references recently; but I never bothered to check.

Well, looks like it happened way back in 1973 - at the request of the residents. The facility retained the name "Kennedy Space Center" to honor JFK. I guess my childhood memories of the Apollo launch telecasts "live from Cape Kennedy" were so strong, I ignored anything I might've heard about the name changing back.

Actually, now that I think about it it - it probably had more to do with Barbara Eden and those sexy outfits. Major Nelson always went off to "Cape Kennedy", after all.

Cape Canaveral (1)

calidoscope (312571) | more than 2 years ago | (#36058900)

I'm old enough to remember hearing and reading about Cape Canaveral before it became Cape Kennedy. Makes sense to go back to the old place name and renaming the facility. IIRC, I Dream of Jeannie was one of the first TV shows to use a Titan Gemini launch instead of an Atlas Mercury launch for the generic space launch shot.

Rocket or missile ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36058702)

Could one of the technical brains here be so nice and explain to me the difference between a rocket and a missile (in general or in this specific context) ? Thanks !

Re:Rocket or missile ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36058812)

None. A shitload of spacecraft has been launched by converted ICBMs, including all of the early American space missions, if I recall it correctly.

Re:Rocket or missile ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36060920)

We launched rockets before we ever had an ICBM. One of the main purposes of the early space program was to show the soviets that we could launch stuff into space, even a nuke. That was the entire reason there was a space race.

Re:Rocket or missile ? (1)

calidoscope (312571) | more than 2 years ago | (#36064378)

There were two top priority space related projects in the US in the mid 1950's. One was to develop an ICBM, with the Atlas becoming operational 1960-61. The other was to develop photo reconnaissance satellites as aerial reconnaissance was risky (Gary Powers) and provided limited coverage.

von Braun's team could have launched a satellite in January 1956, but Eisenhower gave strict orders that they were not permitted to do so. One reason was that if the Soviets were first to launch a satellite, they would have no basis for objecting to overflights by US satellites.

Re:Rocket or missile ? (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36058842)

A rocket is a kind of engine. A missile is something thrown. Most missiles have rocket engines and are often called rockets, but a steel rod thrown by a crossbow is also a missile.

In common use, a rocket used as a weapon is called a missile, even if the engine is still firing when it impacts

Re:Rocket or missile ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36059166)

Concise and informative. Have a +1 and Have a Nice Day.

Re:Rocket or missile ? (2)

calidoscope (312571) | more than 2 years ago | (#36059020)

A rocket can be anything driven by a non-air-breathing reaction engine. These objects can range in size from a bottle rocket to a Saturn 5 (or larger).

A missile is typically an unmanned weapon that travels through air or space that is directed to a target, though common usage often excludes projectiles launched from guns and unguided rockets bearing warheads. There are two broad types of modern missiles, guided and ballistic. Guided missiles use aerodynamic surfaces to adjust the course of the missile between launch and arrival at target, these can be either air-breathing or rocket propelled. Ballistic missiles are guided by some sort of thrust vectoring while the motors are burning and unguided after burnout.

A rocket that is used to place satellites in orbit is often called a booster or launcher. The Atlas series were originally designed as InterContinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBM), but the later versions were strictly intended as boosters.

Re:Rocket or missile ? (1)

pitterpatter (1397479) | more than 2 years ago | (#36059058)

1. An object intended to be launched into the air at a target.
2. (military) A self-propelled projectile whose trajectory can be adjusted after having been launched.

Is how Wiktionary defines "missile," while a "rocket" is

1. A rocket engine.
2. (military) A non-guided missile propelled by a rocket engine.
3. A vehicle propelled by a rocket engine.
4. A rocket propelled firework, a skyrocket

Evidently the authors of definitions #2 don't quite agree, but I think you can still see the difference.

So what's a rocket engine?

A reaction engine that obtains thrust by jet propulsion which forms its jet exclusively from propellant.

I would have provided links, but, umm...

Unmanned??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36058744)

"An unmanned Atlas 5 rocket..."

When was an Atlas 5 ever manned? I do not believe it is human flight rated or we would not be dumping cash on the Ruskies to fly our people to the ISS.

Scouring the planet (1)

dhammabum (190105) | more than 2 years ago | (#36058924)

The satellites scour the planet for heat trails produced by flying rockets and missiles.

But never airplanes, drones, jets, helicopters, ships, cars and other road vehicles, trains, those on horse, donkey or camel back, whales and dolphins, big game animals, joggers or skateboard riders.

Re:Scouring the planet (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36059744)

That's because those heat signatures that a rocket produces is slightly warmer than what lighting your fart on fire would generate.

Should hope so (2)

drmofe (523606) | more than 2 years ago | (#36058972)

An unmanned Atlas 5 rocket blasted off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station

The Atlas 5 has never been man-rated. But it could be done.

Re:Should hope so (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36060122)

You just stick a man in it, and if they make it, it's man rated ;)

Re:Should hope so (1)

jtcampbell (199660) | more than 2 years ago | (#36062566)

You just stick a man in it, and if they make it, it's man rated ;)

Were you involved in the space shuttle program?

Keeping it up (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36059148)

the ever expensive cost of keeping the war machine lubed. Forget 1 in 7 poverty we have a cold war to maintain because if we don't someone else will. Its about projecting the power in this day and age. in return you are guaranteed all the oil you need and collateral damage you could ever want.

it doesn't mater if you disagree, regardless of who you vote for. Please just keep paying those taxes. Except GE they don't have to pay taxes.

Re:Keeping it up (2)

cavreader (1903280) | more than 2 years ago | (#36060292)

The war machine is only taking 4% of the yearly GDP and that ranks 28th on the list of countries comparing GDP against military expenditures. I'm not saying that is a good or bad thing I just think you need to look at the big picture now and then.

Re:Keeping it up (1)

MJMullinII (1232636) | more than 2 years ago | (#36060392)

-- Please someone kick me in the ass for responding to a AC --

You can't see me, but I'm currently playing the world's smallest violin for all the candyass whiners who behave as though, somehow, they should get a metal for discovering the perpetual unfair shittiness of the world.

moveon.org and the teabaggers can both claim their prizes now.

Reincarnation Exists (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36060446)

Just so everyone understands what this is and how it happened. This satellite was also called the SDI BSTS system.

Obligatory... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#36068686)

Nuclear launch detected

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