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Defense Acquisitions. Challenges in Aligning Space System Components

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Congressional rept.

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DODs major space system acquisition programs are intended to perform a wide variety of functions, including communications, missile warning, navigation, tracking space objects, and even providing weather information. Communication satellites provide DOD the ability to communicate along narrowband, wideband, and secure and protected bandwidths. Narrowband communications use lower slower rates to process data and give the warfighter the ability to communicate better while on the move, and also work better in disadvantaged environments, such as in forests, where conventional frequencies might be less effective. Wideband communications use higher data rates and work better for stationary locations in addition to allowing more warfighters to use this type of bandwidth. Secure and protected bandwidths allow warfighters to communicate when other satellites are disabled because of enemy jamming measures and allow a wider use of terminals deployed on backpacks, submarines, airborne assets, and other means. Missile detection satellites allow DOD to identify launches and initially track ballistic missiles and provide early warnings to warfighters. Positioning and navigation satellites give DOD the ability to pinpoint a location, enabling soldiers to call for precise air support and lowering the risk of accidents. Satellites that track space objects and debris help keep satellites safe in space. Finally, weather satellites allow the warfighter to directly receive weather and climate information for more effective military operations. The satellites DOD is developing have finite useful lives that range from about 5 to 15 years. Some space systems under development, such as AEHF, are intended to replace older legacy systems with upgraded and more robust capabilities--such as increasing the volume of data transmitted per second. Table 1 shows the various missions of current and planned DOD satellite programs.

Subject Categories:

  • Meteorology
  • Unmanned Spacecraft
  • Radio Communications

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