In 1963-1964 the Soviet Troops of Defense (PVO) established two new commands: PRO and PKO. PRO, meaning antimissile defense, was charged with detecting, intercepting, and destroying enemy ballistic rockets, while the PKO, meaning anti-space defense, was responsible for "destroying the enemy's cosmic means of fighting" (Reference 106). In 1992 the USSR Space Units which include PRO and PKO were essentially transferred to the CIS United Armed Forces. However, on 7 May 1992 the armed forces of the Russian Federation were established with specific air and space defense missions.
To implement a space control regime and to fulfill its space defense obligation, the PKO began developing ASAT capabilities. Today, the Russian Federation is commonly believed to have acquired four basic ASAT systems with varying degrees of effectiveness. However, the operational status of these systems is a topic of considerable debate.
Thanks everybody for the informative links. I was around
when word was getting out through magazines like Aviation Week, and even Analog that the Russians were developing ASAT capabilities.
I remember reading about a test where the Russians managed to move an ASAT next
to one of their worn out satellites then detonated the ASAT. I also read about
the Russians using lasers to blind the VLS (Visible Light Sensor) on an
American satellite. This kind of thing has been going on since before I was
born, when the so-called “Space Age” was just beginning.
Treaty or no treaty things are going on in back rooms right
now, the only difference is maybe you don’t have ashtrays heaped up with
cigarette butts anymore. Some people might be upset by the backroom boys and girls plotting how to fight space wars, but you can’t wish it away. So what to do? I’d say protect
those satellites. TrustButVerify has some ideas for that. First make the
satellites more maneuverable, second make your system redundant with more “hot”
spares, and third, having backups staged and ready to go. These are important
points, and they’re working on them right now.
As for the first point (maneuverability) I think satellites
will definitely become more maneuverable. I can see these lofted into orbit and
equipped with electric ion space drives similar to those that have been used
for deep space probes. This doesn’t give you the ability to make quick evasive
maneuvers, but you could change up your orbit enough to make targeting much
more difficult. You might want to have some chemical rockets on board for quick
moves. These types of satellites would obviously be more expensive (but with economies of scale maybe not so), so you’d
want to include the other options, a redundant net of hot satellites, and the
ability to launch satellites quickly to replenish your satellite net.
The idea of launching them from Vandenberg and Patrick would
be good to start with, but I’d ultimately want something more flexible. Here
Softwar brings up the F-15 launched ASAT weapon, and I would say that this
might be a cheap way of launching smaller, cheaper satellites as needed. This
would make the launch infrastructure harder to target because they could be
launched from multiple locations. In fact Dale Brown plays with this idea in
many of his books, only he calls them “NIRTS”, or Need It Right This Second,
One thing for sure, space war is going to be expensive…
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