Dickinson: ‘Industrial alternatives open new prospects, however can even complicate entry to the area with the proliferation of mega constellations’
WASHINGTON — The quickly rising variety of satellites orbiting the Earth is inflicting apprehension, the commander of U.S. Area Command stated April 20.
Gen. James Dickinson informed lawmakers on Capitol Hill that congestion in area principally fueled by industrial exercise might create security issues if it’s not managed.
“We’d like a brand new stage of consciousness,” Dickinson stated.
Dickinson testified on Tuesday at a posture listening to in entrance of the Senate Armed Companies Committee alongside Adm. Charles Richard, commander of U.S. Strategic Command.
U.S. Area Command’s site visitors watchers at Vandenberg Air Pressure Base, California, presently monitor about 32,000 objects on orbit, together with greater than 3,400 lively satellites. They estimate the chance of collisions and ship warnings to satellite tv for pc operators.
Dickinson famous that the three largest constellations of satellites immediately are operated by industrial corporations: SpaceX, Planet and Spire.
“Industrial alternatives open new prospects, however can even complicate entry to the area with the proliferation of mega constellations,” he stated.
“The security and sustainability of an more and more crowded area area grows extra complicated as industrial entities plan to launch 1000’s of satellites within the subsequent few years,” Dickinson stated. “The explosive development of nano, micro, and small satellites will additional stress our current area surveillance networks.”
Senators on the committee, together with Thom Tillis (R-NC), Tim Kaine (D-VA) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), requested Dickinson for particular suggestions on the right way to handle this problem.
Dickinson stated Area Command is concentrated on bettering “area area consciousness,” or data of objects and actions in area. He stated extra assets are wanted to trace industrial site visitors and likewise potential threats comparable to weapons that China and Russia might deploy to focus on U.S. satellites.
“We have to characterize what we’re seeing within the area area,” stated Dickinson.
He stated Area Command is increasing its area surveillance community by integrating information from floor and sea-based radar utilized by the Military and the Navy for missile protection.
Civil and industrial spaceflight security obligations now carried out by Area Command needs to be transitioned to the Division of Commerce in 2024, Dickinson stated.
The Trump administration ordered the switch of obligations in a 2018 coverage directive however the transition has been gradual principally as a result of Commerce doesn’t have the assets to tackle area site visitors administration.
Shaheen, who additionally sits on the Appropriations Committee, stated lawmakers wish to know the way a lot cash Commerce wants to do that activity. He requested Dickinson how a lot the Air Pressure and Area Pressure spend immediately on area site visitors administration. Dickinson stated he would get again to her.
In written testimony, Dickinson stated he urged Congress to “afford the Division of Commerce the assets they should accomplish the civil and industrial spaceflight security mission.”