Military satellites—spacecraft acquired, launched, and operated by a nation’s military forces—share many of the same mission types used in commercial and civilian applications. Communications, remote sensing, positioning, navigation, and timing (PNT) missions can seem remarkably similar to civilian … This article is for subscribers. Please sign up for a subscription or login below. Username Password…
Definitions of the various intelligence disciplines for an understanding of how they may apply to satellite collection operations.
In March 2011, the U.S. Air Force launched the ## test flight of the top secret X-37B space plane. Originally scheduled to land after ## days, the mission was extended and the spacecraft was still in orbit at the end of 2011. The 2010 maiden flight of the X-37B lasted for ## days. The military has not divulged specifics about the space plane’s cargo or mission, but it is speculated that it carries advanced Air Force experiments, sensors, and other research payloads. Some space technology experts believe the X-37B is a reconnaissance tool, given its ability to land, change payloads, and alter its orbit more rapidly than a LEO satellite.
An unmanned U.S. Air Force space plane, the X-37B, was launched in April 2010 aboard an Atlas V rocket. The X-37B remained in orbit for ## days, testing its capabilities and conducting a variety of experiments on behalf of the Air Force. Some international observers expressed concerns that the secrecy shrouding this vehicle could be interpreted by other nations as evidence that the U.S. was developing a space-based weapon. Other space technology experts believe the most likely mission of the X-37B is reconnaissance, given its ability to land, change payloads, and alter its orbit more rapidly than a LEO satellite.