Contested space II: Countermeasures

The previous article in this series was a reviews of the many threats a reconnaissance satellite faces. It opened with an interview of the Director of the US National Reconnaissance Office, who stressed how critical it is for her organization to address these threats by creating a resilient, defendable system. She also announced the NRO was spending billions on achieving that goal. So how can they do that? What countermeasures could they deploy against jammers and anti-satellite (ASAT) weapons?

Information on the subject is scarce due to its extreme sensitivity. The US Air Force published a Counterspace Operation Doctrine in 2004, which details some of the measures that can be taken to protect space capabilities. An older, 1985 report by the US Office of Technology Assessment goes into more technical details, with a late-cold war flavor. For a less tedious introduction to the context, there is an 60 Minutes documentary…

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