East-Asia-Intel.com, November 17, 2010
The United States and Australia are increasing joint efforts to protect satellite communications amid growing concerns about Chinese cyber warfare and anti-satellite weapons.
Both countries agreed in a statement to increase space situational awareness, the military euphemism for increased surveillance and reconnaissance.
China in January 2007 launched a new era in space warfare potential with its first successful test of a ground-launched missile that destroyed a satellite in space. It represented a major step forward in China’s efforts to use asymmetric warfare against the United States, which is heavily dependent on satellites for both military communications and targeting, as well as commercial activities.The agreement, called Space Situational Awareness Partnership statement of principles, will seek to expand defense space cooperation between the United States and Australia.
Under the partnership, the two countries will establish ground-based radar and optical stations to track satellites and other orbital objects passing over the Asia-Pacific region.
The effort will boost Australia’s support of the U.S. Space Surveillance Network in providing more accurate warnings of potential collisions between manned spacecraft, the international space station, satellites and other space debris and to track objects falling to Earth over Australia or the region.
The sensors also will provide information on whether certain actions in space are deliberate or accidental, and trace the source of those actions, according to a ministerial consultations fact sheet.
“Australia and the United States shared a deep concern about the increasingly interdependent, congested, and contested nature of outer space and acknowledged that preventing behaviors that could result in mishaps, misperceptions or mistrust was a high priority ” a joint communique issued after the session noted.
The two side also will increase cyber security efforts, another area where China is a growing threat.
The statement announced Nov. 9 in Melbourne, stated that China as a country had taken “deliberate actions” to disrupt the operating environment for satellites in space.
“Debris can result from deliberate actions such as the 2007 Chinese anti-satellite test, which added over 6,000 pieces of orbiting debris.”
The statement said the development of counter-space weapons that created more long-lived space debris posed “a direct and immediate threat to the rights of all nations to explore and use space for peaceful purposes.”
The space sensors will be operating at joint facilities like the Naval Communications Station at Exmouth in Western Australia.