Space Products & Innovation
Homeland Security, Defense, and Intelligence
The national defense needs of many countries help to drive demand for satellite capacity. Armed forces and international peacekeeping organizations from across the globe lease capacity from various commercial satellite operators or acquire Earth imagery services from commercial companies. Military forces are also building more of their own dedicated satellites due to increased capacity demands and the need for secure connectivity for deployed troops.
Military users of a mobile satellite communications system are benefiting from an efficient, fault-tolerant communications coding method used in ESA’s Rosetta mission. In July 2010, while on a journey to rendezvous with a comet in 2014, the Rosetta spacecraft visited the asteroid Lutetia.
Another security application of space technology is the Automatic Identification System (AIS), which tracks ships at sea. This system, which employs satellite communication links, reports vessel identification, position, course, and speed.
The U.N. is also using GIS to help resolve disputes over the location of international boundaries. The U.N. Cartographic Section is developing the U.N. International Boundary Information System (UNIBIS), a worldwide geographic database of international boundaries.
As of the end of 2010, 13 U.N. peacekeeping missions around the world use systems that integrate location information with satellite imagery, referred to as geographic information systems (GIS), as part of daily operations.
Satellite communications and GPS have fostered the proliferation and rapid enhancement of one increasingly vital military technology, the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). Satellites relay communications from the UAV back to its home base, which can be located on the other side of the planet.
Tactical communications supported by satellites are becoming increasingly important to mobile military units during operations. In June 2009, the U.S. Naval Surface Warfare Center awarded Iridium a contract to develop a next-generation communications system for a joint U.S. military network technologies program.
Communications technologies also play a key role in the security sector because they can deliver communication services unaffected by disruption or lack of terrestrial communications infrastructure.