Military Embedded Systems

The Space Force, Lagrange points, xenomorphs, and the Kill Web


April 28, 2022

Ray Alderman

VITA Standards Organization

WARFARE EVOLUTION BLOG. So far, we have studied how the U.S. Army (IBCS) and Navy (CEC) programs have been conducting experiments, to integrate their weapons and ISR (intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance) systems into the Kill Web mesh network. Now, let’s take a look at what the Space Force is doing. The Space Force was formed as the fourth armed service in 2019 and operates under the Air Force.

The mission of the Space Force is to assure freedom of operations in space for our spacecraft, much like the Navy’s mission is to assure freedom of operations at sea for our ships. How will they do that? They will have the ability to conduct orbital warfare, space electromagnetic warfare, space battle management, space access, and sustainment, intelligence gathering, and cyber operations. In other words, they will have combat missions. This is all being done under the Air Force's ABMS (Advanced Battle Management System) program. Clearly, their theater of operations is in space but that needs a deeper explanation. Like every battlefield on earth, space has a certain topography, choke points, highways, no-mans-land, and high ground, but you can’t see those features in space. The satellite orbits above the earth are the battleground today, but cislunar space (the area between the earth and the moon) and the Earth-moon Lagrange points (EML-1 through EML-5) are the new high ground for military operations. Those points are where the gravity of the earth and moon balance and hold objects in place. There are also five different earth-sun Lagrange points (ESL-1 through ESL-5), where the sun and earth's gravitational forces balance, but they are being ignored by the Space Force for now. These are the points where we need to put ISR satellites, weapons, and Space Force Marines to defend the earth from an invasion by space aliens from other planets and galaxies. With all the unexplained UFO sightings over the years, the idea that the earth is being surveyed by extraterrestrials is feasible.

To read more Warfare Evolution Blogs by Ray Alderman, click here. Alien civilizations know we are here. We have been broadcasting radio, television, radar, and cellphone signals into space for over 100 years now, and any aliens within 100 light-years have surely intercepted them. What would extraterrestrials want from earth? What any advanced civilization would want: energy, mineral resources, and food. The disturbing thought here is food. We launched Pioneer and Voyager into deep space carrying metallic records that had a little data about earth and its occupants encoded on them. But that’s like a message in a bottle. Aliens would have to stumble upon those craft in the vast voids of space, decode the message, and try to finds us. Now, the good people at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory are planning to send a radio message into deep space that includes our exact position in the Milky Way, the details about our DNA, and our human chemical make-up (humans are CHONs, made of carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen). Aliens probably know about our DNA and chemistry already. People have been abducted and subjected to invasive medical procedures by alien scientists for years, along with numerous unexplained cattle mutilations. Go read Martin Greenberg and John Helfer’s book, "Alien Abductions” (1999) for the gory details. There are about 1 billion cattle on earth today. More humans have been abducted and involuntarily probed by alien scientists than surgically mutilated cattle found. That suggests that the aliens surveying earth don’t have a taste for beef. There are only 36 people per square mile of the earth’s surface (7.8 billion people total), so maybe the CHON-eating xenomorphs from outer space are just waiting for our population density to increase, to a point where it makes it worth their time to harvest us for food. Stephen Hawking said that sending a message into space, including the details of our body chemistry, is just ringing the dinner bell for any intelligent alien lifeforms that might find CHONs tasty. Obviously, Hawking wasn’t willing to bet that extraterrestrials visiting earth will be vegetarians. But, I digress. A deeper dive into the earth-sun Lagrange points, and our defense against aliens who see us as dinner, will have to wait for another time. Meanwhile, go watch episode 89 of the “The Twilight Zone” (1962) about the Kanamits, titled  "To Serve Man." You won’t sleep for a week. Now, let’s come back closer to earth. Jet aircraft can only fly as high as about 10 or 15 miles. Then, there’s the mesosphere that goes up another 45 miles, where the air is too thin to run engines or provide lift. Anything flying there is vulnerable to ground-based interceptor missiles. The mesosphere is a no-mans-land. Operational space starts at about 60 miles above the earth and that’s called the Karman Line. According to the Union of Concerned Scientists' satellite database, there are 4,852 operational satellites in orbit around the earth (as of December 2021). There are about 3,000 dead satellites in orbit too, along with 34,000 pieces of space debris larger that about 4 inches in diameter. Low earth orbit (LEO) is the first battlefield for the Space Force. It starts at 60 miles above the earth, and goes up to about 1,200 miles. Of the total operational satellites, 4,078 are in LEO and the US flys 2,944 of them. This is where the space station, some communications, and earth-observation satellites fly. MEO (medium earth orbit) starts at about 1,200 miles and goes up to about 14,000 miles. There are 141 satellites in MEO. This is where GPS,  PNT (position, navigation, and timing) satellites, and maritime communications satellites are located. Then comes GEO (geosynchronous earth orbit), where the satellite travels at the same speed of the earth’s rotation and stays over one spot on the earth. That’s at about 22,230 miles altitude. There are 574 satellites in GEO. This is where some communications, radio and TV broadcasting (satellite TV), and weather satellites fly. There is another area called HEO (highly elliptical orbit). This location has the same altitude as GEO, but circles the earth at a higher angle. It’s also called the Molniya orbits, where the Russians have placed their communications satellites. There are 59 satellites in HEO. Don’t get too attached to the satellite numbers here because they change frequently. In 2019, 95 satellites were launched into orbit. In 2020, 114 were launched. In 2021, the number was 135. In the first quarter of 2022, 40 were launched, so these numbers move around. Analysts say that we could see 50,000 satellites in orbit in the next 10 years. Of all these satellites, about 230 of them belong to the U.S. military. They fly in different orbits and the Space Force must protect and defend them from attack. In LEO, we have military communications, imaging intelligence (IMINT), electronic intelligence (ELINT, tracking enemy radar signals and missile telemetry), infrared sensor satellites (to track enemy missiles, ships, and ground vehicles), and radar satellites (to track and target enemy ground vehicles and ships in combat zones). Already stated, military GPS and PNT satellites operate in MEO, along with some military communications satellites. In GEO, we find big SIGINT (signals intelligence) satellites that intercept enemy communications signals, cellphone calls, and some have infrared sensors to detect missile launches on earth. Four countries (the US, China, India, and Russia) have shot down one of their old nonfunctioning satellites with ASAT (anti-satellite) missiles. From what I have read, all those satellites were in LEO, a few hundred miles above earth. Back in 2009, a defunct Russian communications satellite (Kosmos-2251) collided with a fully functioning Iridium satellite (Iridium-33) about 500 miles above Siberia (again, in LEO). Iridium-33 didn’t have the thruster power to get out of the way. These incidents created much of the space debris. In late 2017, three sleeping Russian satellites (Kosmos-2491, Kosmos-2499, and Kosmos-2504) woke-up, maneuvered rapidly into new orbits, and rendezvoused within a few yards of old rocket boosters and a dead Chinese weather satellite. Russia calls these “inspection satellites”, for maintenance missions with their other satellites. In January 2020, Russia launched satellite Kosmos-2542 into LEO. Two weeks later, K-2542 launched a smaller satellite (Kosmos-2543) from its interior. USA-245, a secret NRO (National Reconnaissance Office) KH-11 spy satellite, that monitors enemy military facilities (IMINT), changed orbit to avoid being hit by K-2543. K-2542 then followed USA-235, circled it, and examined it (probably taking pictures). Six months later, K-2543 fired some kind of projectile out into space. In January 2022, a Chinese satellite (Shijian-21), went up to GEO orbit and grabbed a malfunctioning navigation satellite (Beideu-2 G2). After mechanically latching onto the defunct satellite, SJ-21 turned-on its thrusters and pushed Beidou-2 G2 about 180 miles above GEO into a graveyard orbit. Then, it returned to its original orbit. China calls SJ-21 a “debris capture and removal” satellite. In 2021, a Japanese company (Astroscale) launched the ELSA-D satellite that does the same thing, intercepting dead satellites traveling at 17,000 MPH, latching onto them, pushing them down to LEO with its thrusters, and letting them go to burn-up on reentry. According to the latest reports, China and Russia are attacking our satellites every day with lasers (to blind our optical sensors), electronic warfare (jamming our communications frequencies), and cyber attacks (trying to hack into the onboard computers and take control of the satellite). Russia has been jamming GPS signals over Ukraine since the war started. This gives you a general idea of what the Space Force is facing, to defend our satellites. The US has adopted the policy of not attacking enemy satellites with kinetic weapons (explosives, projectiles). That would contaminate important orbits with more dangerous debris. So, we will attack their satellites with lasers, that can burn-up their optical sensors. We will hit their electronics with high power microwave signals, to burn-up their receivers and transmitters. We will make our newer satellites very agile with powerful thrusters, so then can quickly change orbits and avoid enemy satellite weapons. Many of our older satellites are as big as a school bus and have multiple sensors onboard: radar, infrared, RF signal receivers, electro-optical cameras, and ground communications equipment. The Space Force is working on a new satellite architecture where each satellite has a different  type of sensor, but we will have hundreds of small cube satellites in orbit in a constellation (called “disaggregation”). We will have a hundred radar satellites, a hundred infrared satellites, a hundred electro-optical satellites, scattered across LEO, MEO, and GEO. This is a layered satellite architecture. That way, if the enemy destroys one satellite, we have many more that have the same mission sensor and the network is self-healing without any loss of capacity. Eventually, we will have more military satellites in orbit than the enemy has anti-satellite weapons to destroy them. The next part of the space architecture plan is to gain control of the earth-moon Lagrange points (EML-1 through EML-5). The Outer Space Treaty of 1967 forbids military bases and weapons on the lunar surface. The moon is rich in deposits of titanium, aluminum, and Helium-3, the holy grail of nuclear fusion fuel. About 25 tons of He-3 could provide all the energy needs of the US for a year, so certain countries would like to take control of those moon resources by military means. EML-1 is the Lagrange point about 85% of the distance from the earth to the moon (and 15% of the distance from the moon to the earth). This is where we will place a refueling depot and way station, to bring mining equipment from earth, assemble it, and transfer it to the moon’s surface. Small space ships will bring the metal and He-3 ores from the moon and aggregate them onto larger spaceships at EML-1, for return to earth. This is also a perfect place to position ISR satellites, that track the movements of enemy satellites in LEO, MEO, and GEO. And, this is where we can put troops and weapons, to defend the moon. Space Force is designing their first CHPS satellites (cis-lunar highway patrol system), to track everything in cis-lunar space. My bet is that the first one will go into the EML-1 position. EML-2 is about the same distance from the moon, but on the back side. This is where we will put intelligence and communications satellites, to make sure nobody is putting weapons or military assets on the dark side of the moon. And it’s another perfect spot for a refueling depot. There are already a few satellites in the EML-2 position now. EML-3 is behind the earth, opposite the moon. This is where we again place ISR satellites that can monitor and track enemy satellites in orbit. EML-1 through EML-3 do not perfectly balance the earth-moon gravitational forces, so anything put there will need to use thrusters to stay in position (station-keeping). EML-4 is 60 degrees ahead of the moon in its orbit, and EML-5 is 60 degrees behind the moon in its orbit. These locations are very stable and balanced (minimal station-keeping). These points are where we can put more intelligence satellites, to monitor other satellites. And, it is the perfect place to put military bases for troops and weapons, to defend the moon and our satellites in earth orbit. Today, the Space Force's satellites are pointed at earth. They are being connected into the Kill Web mesh network to provide intelligence, targeting, and communications for our troops on the battlefields on earth. As the space architecture becomes more refined, they will be launching new satellites pointing away from earth, to monitor and track enemy satellites in orbit (like CHPS). That’s their new mission: space domain awareness or SDA. Then, they will be launching satellites and military bases into the earth-moon Lagrange points (EML-1 through EML-5). It’s probably best that you look at a diagram of the earth-moon Lagrange points on the web, to get a visual perspective of where they are. If you think all this is science fiction, the Space Force initiated the 19th Space Defense Squadron in late April. Their mission is to protect and defend cis-lunar space, the moon, and the earth-moon Lagrange points. To better understand all this information, I suggest that you read chapters 13 and 14 of George and Meredith Friedman’s book, “The Future of War” (1996). It goes into much greater detail about space warfare than my synopsis here. Next time, we’ll look at what the Air Force is doing with their ABMS program. Until then, download the Union of Concerned Scientists’ satellite database (in text or Excel format) and look it over. Then, go watch that Twilight Zone episode I mentioned, do some reading about alien adductions of humans and unexplained surgical cattle mutilations, and think about the earth-sun Lagrange points as the only strategic positions in space that can keep us from being eaten by a bunch of hungry xenomorphs.

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